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18 'Hacks' That Can Make Life With Chronic Illness Easier in the Summer

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For the average healthy person, the arrival of summer might mean trips to the beach, afternoons spent by the pool or backyard barbecues with friends and family. But for many spoonies, the long, hot days are not something to look forward to. Prolonged exposure to the intense heat and sunlight can trigger flare-ups and exacerbate symptoms such as pain, overheating and fatigue in some people with chronic illnesses.

So, we asked our community to share some of the “hacks” they’ve developed over the years to make living with a chronic condition a bit easier during the summer. Share the tips and tricks you use in the summer to find some relief from your symptoms in the comments below.

Here’s what our community told us:

1. “Warmth and humidity make my pain worse so I make sure my home or at least my bedroom is adequately cool and without humidity so I can sleep better. I also have a fan on at night to make sure the air circulates and the soft noise helps me sleep.”

2. “I always have a small umbrella with me to protect me from sunlight. And a scarf in case I get cold or in case I want to use it as sun-protection as well. On very hot days I make my hair wet and wear a hat so my head stays cool.”

3. “Long sundresses that are easy to put on, easy to move in, cool and avoid pressure at the waist. I also don’t have to waste energy looking for multiple wardrobe pieces.”

4. “For joint problems, invest in a good pair of supportive sandals and don’t be ashamed of your assistive devices/DME/medical devices even if your summer clothes don’t cover them. Your enjoyment, comfort and health are more important than what other people think.”

5. “I sport a shorter hairstyle for summertime. It is so freeing – just a quick blow dry and my hair is done for the day.”

6. “I got some small ice packs from the $1 section at Target. They fit in the pockets of my jeans. It helps me not overheat outside.”

7. “I take more showers at night so that I won’t get overheated/sweaty putting on lotion, getting dressed, blow drying hair, etc. Because I can literally have the air conditioning on 60 degrees and still get overheated when it comes to getting ready in the summer!”

8. “Cooking meals in the Crockpot that can be separated for individual meals. It means I don’t have to use my oven when it’s too hot.”

9. “I got a little fan that plugs into my phone! It’s super portable, easy to use and despite its size it works really well.”

10. “Heat aggravates my conditions, and I have an allergic-type reaction to sunlight. I try to sleep off the afternoons and get most things done early morning, late evening or overnight.”

11. “I never go anywhere without at least one bottle of water (usually taken out of the fridge right before I leave the house) and I have big water bottles I keep near my bed and on the shelf where my meds are. I have bottles of water and a big cup of water (with a straw/lid) in the fridge at all times, so when I finish one I can just grab another. I have flavored water (no dyes, sweetener or chemicals) and herbal teas as well, so I don’t have to have plain water all the time. If I know I’ll be out for a long time, I can always put a bottle in the freezer the night before and take it as a back up since it’ll be cold after it thaws. (I also have a case of water bottles in my truck, just in case.)”

12. “Cooling bandanas are a godsend for hot days when you have to be outside. When I use them, I have a few in a cooler so I can swap them out when one gets too warm. They really do keep me from overheating.”

13. “I freeze my socks to deal with the lack of temperature regulation that comes with fibromyalgia!”

14. “I carry salt packets around in my bag so when I get extra dizzy I can down a couple packets real quick and drink some water.”

15. “Staying home in the dark (blackout curtains) with my air conditioner and my giant collection of ice packs of all shapes and sizes.”

16. “I use a head wrap to protect my scalp. I don’t like hats so wraps are a way of looking stylish and being safe at the same time. There are so many styles you can do and lots of colors and patterns to mix up your look.”

17. “I sweat profusely and have used those cooling towels (you get them wet, wring them out and “snap” them to keep cool). They’re almost like a chamois cloth and work somewhat well.”

18. “I use multiple fans at different angles when I’m in bed during summer. This past summer I bought one that automatically sprays a fine mist of water every 10 seconds or so. So I’ll leave that on my bedside table in line with my face.”

Originally published: May 17, 2017
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