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MS and managing heat-related symptoms

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MS/Cancer support group members learned to keep cool with advice from Angel Chapman, client service consultant for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA).

Chapman said, "Many people with multiple sclerosis are heat sensitive, and heat and humidity can aggravate some MS symptoms. Cooling the body may provide temporary symptom relief."

To help MS patients better manage heat, the MSAA Cooling Program offers two styles of cooling vests, which hold ice packs. One vest can be worn under clothing. The other vest is worn over clothing and holds more ice packs than the other vest, which results in more cooling time but more weight. MSAA does not charge eligible applicants for a vest.

The cooling vests are adjustable and fit most people. MSAA also offers neck coolers and ankle and wrist coolers with specific vest kits.

"If not wearing a cooling vest, an MS patient can combat the heat by rethinking daily routines such as to exercise and run errands in early morning or late evening when not so hot," Chapman said.

"If you get overheated, try to cool your body. Run cool water over your hands or wrist, and rest in a cool place. Give your body a chance to recuperate. You also can shower in cool water to help lower your body temperature," Chapman added.

To receive a cooling vest, complete these steps and return all required documents to MSAA. All forms and applications are available at

Step 1: Complete the Personal Data Form.
Step 2: Complete the Income Eligibility Section.
Step 3: Complete the Cooling Application.
Step 4: Get a prescription or letter from your doctor that verifies your diagnosis of MS and include it with the application.
Step 5: Read and sign the Cooling Equipment Terms Agreement.

For more information on MSAA's Cooling Program, call 800-532-7667 or go to their website at

Tips for keeping cool

• Stay in an air-conditioned area whenever possible.
• Eat cold foods such as frozen grapes and blueberries.
• Sit in the shade when you are outside.
• Place wrapped ice packs or water-soaked clothes on your forehead and back of neck.
• Place your hands in cold water.
• Drink plenty of cool, not cold, water, which allows the body to absorb liquid gradually.

The group, which is composed of persons dually diagnosed with MS and cancer, is co-sponsored by the National MS Society and the American Cancer Society.

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