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18 Photos That Show How Summer Can Affect Chronic Illness Symptoms

Chronic illness can be challenging and present new and unpredictable obstacles year-round. But for many spoonies, the heat and light of summer can aggravate symptoms and cause even more flare-ups than usual.

Maybe heat worsens your fatigue, or maybe your illness or medications cause you to have photosensitivity and experience pain or rashes from being out in the sun. Regardless, it can be especially difficult and a bit isolating at times when all your healthy family and friends want to spend time outside, but doing so could have huge consequences for your health.

We wanted to raise awareness of the unique struggles chronic warriors face during the summer, so we asked our Mighty community to share a photo that shows how summertime affects their chronic illness. If summer is difficult for you too, perhaps some of the following symptoms and experiences will sound familiar.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. “Looking cute, feeling not so cute! Years of being chronically unwell means I’ve gotten pretty good at masking most [of] my symptoms. I might look OK but I certainly don’t feel it. This weather wreaks havoc with most [of] my body systems. I would list them but frankly who has the energy.” – Leigh B.

woman sitting outside in her wheelchair wearing rainbow colored pants

2. “I get this rash every summer. It’s usually only once, but this is my second one within a month. It’s so itchy.” – Meena N.

red bumpy rash on a woman's arm

3. “I took a quick pic in the morning, because about 10 minutes after it was taken, I was soaked from profuse sweating. And then I looked like I needed another shower.” – Julie H.C.

woman smiling

4. “I live in the Texas Panhandle and it’s been really hot. On the day I took this picture it was almost 100 degrees and it hit me so suddenly while making dinner that I was scared I would hit the ground. So I decided to sit down and finish making dinner on the kitchen floor.” – Ashley C.

dinner laid out on the floor

5. “Heat and/or humidity seems to loosen up my connective tissue and my joints slip out of joint or hyper-extend more frequently and with more severity as well. The pain after lasts for days.” – Vanessa B.

woman wearing leggings

6. “I dread summertime every single year. Where I live, the temperatures hang between a sweltering 108° to 115° for a minimum of two solid months. The sun is blinding, scorching hot and causes even more frequent headaches, migraines and nausea than I normally have. I often wear a cold wrap around my head and/or neck to cool the relentless, pounding ache in my cranium. I can’t get out and enjoy the summer season with my kids like I want to. The heat sucks the life and energy right out of me and has me longing for cooler, more tolerable weather.” – Tonya M.W.

black and white photo of a woman sitting in bed wearing an ice pack on her head

7. “My feet swell so badly in the heat, and sometimes they’re so bad I can’t walk.” – Sarah R.

woman's swollen foot and ankle

8. “The heat makes all my symptoms worse. With POTS, I pass out more which also aggravates my GI symptoms. This is my belly swelling to three times its size.” – Melany M.

woman taking a selfie in a mirror with a bloated stomach

9. “I have CRPS in the upper right side of my body. I knew I was sensitive to sunlight, so I took precautions by using sunscreen, and covering up in long-sleeved, lightweight clothing. Before this, I had no idea I was heat sensitive. Blisters and lesions make it extremely difficult to wear clothing, and fear of this happening prevents me from leaving the house during the summer months.” – Natasha A.

red rash on a woman's shoulder

10. “I’m not ashamed of being sick, I’m ashamed of the way everyone treats me, the medical community especially. Maybe lupus or mixed connective tissue disease [or] combination thereof – autoimmune disease guaranteed. The only thing they can’t guarantee me is an answer. Apparently suffering from rare diseases is complicated [as are] autoimmune diseases in general, sadly.” – Tim B.

selfie of a man in a blue hoodie

11. “The heat makes my POTS symptoms intensify. Even on beta blockers, my heart rate can get uncontrollable on bad days in the summer. Walking from my car into a store in 100 degree heat makes my heart rate literally double in under one minute. I could run several errands in cooler temperatures before hitting a wall, but in the summer I can barely do one. It makes leaving the house for any reason extremely difficult.” – Sarah A.M.

woman's heart rate monitor that reads 167

12. “I was in the hospital for a week and during a thunderstorm got anxious and was having a hard time with keeping my oxygen mask on, so my nurse gave my panda one to wear, too!” – Mikki G.

woman wearing oxygen tube in her nose and holding a stuffed panda

13. “The heat in summer affects my bladder function. I need to use a catheter when it’s extremely bad. I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and comorbid conditions.” – Nicole P.E.

catheter strapped to a woman's leg

14. “This is my face drooping due to having a complex silent migraine (mimicking stroke symptoms). Triggered by heatwave and exposure to the sun on the school run. I couldn’t speak, move or see very well but my body was in agony, I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. I felt helpless and very scared. This is why I dread summer.” – Carole-Anne R.

half a woman's face drooping

15. “Heat makes my skin itch and scratch, [which] causes bruising.” – Shay-Leigh M.

bruises on a woman's leg

16. “Warm weather sends me into a severe burning flare. I have EM and relapsing polychondritis.” – Kaz E.

woman with red, flushing cheeks

17. “After a long training session with the fur baby and a lot of walking, I had to lay on the cold concrete to cool off in +80° weather.” – Breezy N.

woman lying on a concrete floor

18. “Summer means trying to be a ‘normal’ mom and taking my three kids on walks, to the playground, to friends’ houses, the lake, parties, etc. where I walk and stand a lot. I’ve iced my feet in a bucket of ice water four times already today. Tarsal tunnel syndrome, hypermobility.” – Lauren M.

woman icing her feet in a bucket of cold water