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Q. What is Your MS Temperature "Limit" for Being Outside?


Updated June 27, 2014

Years before I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), I enjoyed running. I lived in a busy city and did most of my running on a treadmill at a gym close to my apartment. However, I would also run outside occasionally. I could never understand why some days I could do just fine, while a couple of days later, I would be a mess and not get far at all. I noted the temperature outside a couple of times and realized that anything over 75 degrees (Farenheit) was a recipe for disaster for running.

Later, when I was experiencing many MS symptoms, but had not been diagnosed, I would notice that hot days were really hard. Much harder for me than for most other people - even people who were older and less fit than myself would have absolutely no problem with the heat, whereas I was gripping my side with pain from the "MS hug," while stumbling along on numb, tingly feet.

My MS diagnosis brought clarity to the situation in terms of why I had these problems in hot weather. Most people with MS are heat intolerant - heat brings on increased symptoms, to the point of pseudoexacerbations. In fact, the clinical test for MS used to be the "hot bath test," where a patient would be placed in a tub full of hot water under a doctor's observation and asked to undergo the tests that make up a neurologic exam. A worse performance in the hot water (or immediately after) indicated that MS was a real possibility.

Now that the weather is getting cooler in the US, I am trying to get outside more. I live in a place where it we still have hot days in the beginning of November, so I am able to do comparisons as to what is "a little too hot" and okay for being outside (as opposed to summer, when it is either "way too hot" or "unbelievable, mind-numbing, crushing heat").

I think I have figured out that around 82 degrees is my limit for extended periods outside. Clearly, 72 degrees is better, but I can do 82. I can endure 86 for a short time, but I have to know that there is an end in sight.

What about you? What is your upper limit for outside temperature? For that matter, what is your lower limit? (I know some people do worse in the cold, I am not one of them.) Let us know in the comment section below. Your response may help someone who hasn't thought much about this before to get out and enjoy weather that is within their "range."

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