Answered on: 5/29/2013
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I was reading how "cooling vests" or "cooling neck scarves" could help alleviate some of the effects caused by heat. I have found a few suppliers online and they are very expensive. Do you have any suggestions on what or where we could go to find less expensive options and if these cooling devices even work?
Heat sensitivity is common and can “temporarily” worsen MS symptoms while the body temperature is elevated. I am aware of two types of cooling vests and whether they will work for you is difficult to know without trying. The most common type of cooling vest has pockets for ice packs throughout. Some find these extremely useful and others have reported that these can be heavy and bulky if your plans include a lot of activity.
A second type of cooling vest option uses a concept called “evaporative cooling” which allows for a lighter and more discreet garment. This involves submerging the garment in water prior to wearing so there may be a residual “damp” feeling on the skin or clothing. There are also other evaporative cooling products such as hats and scarves including small round inserts that can be put in your own hat, etc.
These same companies sell Velcro-fastened neoprene wrist and ankle “packs” that have compartments for small gel ice packs. Cooling scarves are available with both with the evaporative cooling technology and also as hollow fabric “tubes” that allow for placement of a gel ice pack.
These devices are costly and I am not aware of suppliers offering lower cost alternatives. Before you purchase one of these products, you want to be sure that it will work for you. Talk to your local MS Society chapter or MS Clinic. Some have purchased these garments for patients to trial before buying, and may be able to loan you a cooling device for a trial period. You could also discuss with the vendor the possibility of a trial period during which time you could try their product with no commitment to purchase. Alternatively, some of our patients have experimented at home using homemade ice-cooling devices (simply putting ice in a towel around your neck) to see if the concept of a “cooling” device will work for you.
Other ways to cope with the heat can include keeping yourself in a shaded or air conditioned area, drinking cool fluids and/or submerging your feet in cool water. It is also wise to try to limit your activity during the hot weather periods.
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