The Multiple Sclerosis Institute of Texas is hosting an event at the Downtown Aquarium this week intended to help patients become more aware of how the summer heat can bring on symptoms of MS with a vengeance.
KPRC spoke with the chief neurologist of Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, Dr. Jonathan Garza, for the medical explanation.
“It’s not anything new, it’s just a worsening of what you’ve always had,” Garza said, even if symptoms are well controlled with medication an increase in core body temperature may make the transmission of signals between nerves less efficient.
“So when you get hot, primarily in the summer, the transmission of that information suffers and so people’s symptoms that they’ve been able to manage well during the winter and spring just get worse,” Garza said.
That means heat can temporarily create challenges for MS patients and exaggerate previous problems with balance, strength, feeling or vision.
Garza said the solution is to stay cool.
“If you want to go outside, try doing it earlier in the morning, later in the evening, dusk or dawn where the temperature is not as hot. Maybe don’t stay out as long, so really it’s about not getting overheated,” he said. “So it’s not the minute that they get out that these symptoms get worse, it’s a byproduct of becoming overheated and so if you can minimize those risks then you should be OK.”
If a patient gets too hot, Garza said, don’t panic, once they are cool again the symptoms should fade.
On Wednesday at the Downtown Aquarium, people living with MS and their caregivers can come from 6-9 p.m. to learn more about coping with MS symptoms during the hot Houston summers.