Beat the Heat

Hot and humid hazard tips for the Crohn’s and colitis crew.

With many states and localities issuing heat advisories, I’ve been hearing from lots of people about the effects of this weather we’re experiencing—not just hot temperatures but unusually high humidity as well. With dew points in the 80s, the Midwest seems poised to melt right into its own floodwaters. Straining the nationwide power grid, people are doing everything they can to stay cool.

This kind of weather can put a notable strain on people with IBD. From aching joints, skin rashes, and hemorrhoids to dehydration and flat-out flare-ups, the heat can certainly take its toll. Protecting your body’s precarious balance sometimes requires a little extra attention in times like these. Even if you aren’t feeling the effects, it might be wise to take some simple precautions against heat-related complications.

Here are some tips to help beat the heat:

  • Most importantly, drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty, you need to keep replenishing fluids regularly and it’s best to do so before your body runs short. Avoid beverages that tend to dehydrate such as caffeine, sugary drinks and alcohol.
  • Stay inside if it’s cooler.
  • Limit outdoor time. If you must be outside, use shade wisely and limit exercise.
  • Keep cool. Indoors, close the drapes to reduce solar heating. Use ventilation and convection to your advantage. Move your activities to the basement where it’s likely to be cooler. Even if you have air conditioning, these measures can help reduce the cooling load.
  • Seek air conditioned spaces. If you have trouble keeping cool at home (or want to save some energy), find someplace else with air conditioning. Go shopping or watch a movie. Take the kids to a bowling alley or museum. Tour a local landmark. Go swimming. Ride the bus all day if you have to (perhaps there’s even one that can take you to Canada).
  • Drape a wet towel around your neck.
  • Take a cool bath or shower. Cool water can sometimes be more effective than cold. Or, to conserve water, dunk your head under the faucet and leave your hair wet.
  • Use cold packs or a bag of ice. Cooling even a small part of your body can help a great deal. Remember not to put ice directly against the skin, wrap it in a towel or t-shirt.
  • Don’t forget to look after other people and pets as well.

Get creative and make up your own methods. The heat can seem oppressive at times, but hopefully it won’t be unbearable. In most cases, there’s at least something you can do to ease the burden.

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About the Author

Andrew Tubesing is an acclaimed advocate and humorist on the subject of inflammatory bowel disease.