Doctors say hot weather can worsen the symptoms of MS

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Updated: 8/22/2014 10:00 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & -- Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, affects more than 250,000 people in the United States. It is a debilitating disease and symptoms can be made worse by hot weather.

"People become heat intolerant when they have Multiple Sclerosis because the nervous system doesn't work as well when you're hot," said Renown Clinical Professor of Neurology Doctor Melissa Bloch.

Bloch said the effects are intensified because MS patients already have compromised nervous systems. "Getting overheated when you have a disease like Multiple Sclerosis can make you feel worse. It doesn't necessarily cause the disease to progress, but it can make you feel weaker, it can make your vision less clear and can increase your fatigue."

So Bloch advises her patients with MS to avoid going outdoors during the hottest parts of the day. "Stay inside in air conditioning. Exercising in water can be helpful, in a pool or Lake Tahoe is a very nice, cool lake."

She also wants people who have not been diagnosed to pay attention to their bodies and look out for symptoms. "If you've ever suddenly lost vision, had pain behind the eye, if you have a sudden onset of numbness and weakness in one side of your body, those would be signs that perhaps you should get checked out."

Early diagnosis is key for treatment, but Bloch said many people miss the signs. "It's easy if you're a young person who has a little numbness and tingling to sort of write it off as I did too much at the gym, or I slept funny or I sat on my leg funny. A lot of people can explain away their early symptoms."

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of MS, Bloch said you should contact your primary care physician to get checked.
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