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Beat the Heat this Summer with Lupus

Beating the Heat with Lupus: Your Guide to a Cool, Comfortable Summer

Summer—the season of sunshine, beach trips, and ice cream cones—is my favorite season!

However, if you're living with Lupus, the summer heat can pose unique challenges. Lupus, an autoimmune disease that can affect various organs and tissues, often requires careful management to navigate warmer temperatures. But fear not! With a few proactive steps, you can enjoy the sunny days while keeping your Lupus symptoms in check.

Stay Hydrated, Stay Cool

First and foremost, hydration is key. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps regulate body temperature and prevents dehydration, which can exacerbate symptoms of fatigue and joint pain common in Lupus. Consider carrying a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go to ensure you’re sipping water regularly.

To beat the heat, seek refuge in air-conditioned spaces during the hottest parts of the day. Whether it’s a shopping mall, library, or simply staying indoors with fans or air conditioning, keeping cool can significantly reduce the impact of heat on your body.

bright blue pool in summer time, people in bathing suits

Sun Safety Essentials

Sun exposure is a major trigger for Lupus flare-ups. The sun's UV rays can cause skin rashes and increase fatigue and joint pain. Protect yourself by wearing lightweight clothing that covers your skin, including wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to shield your face and eyes. Don’t forget to apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, even on cloudy days, and reapply every two hours when outdoors. I always recommend mineral sunscreen instead of chemical sunscreen. And be mindful that hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) can worsen photosensitivity.

Plan Outdoor Activities Wisely

While outdoor activities are tempting, timing is crucial. Aim to schedule outdoor activities early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun's intensity is reduced. If you must be outside during peak hours, look for shade under trees, umbrellas, or canopies to minimize direct sun exposure.

Listen to Your Body

Above all, listen to your body’s signals. If you feel overheated, fatigued, or notice any unusual symptoms, take a break and rest in a cool, shaded area. Pace yourself and prioritize activities that are enjoyable and manageable within your current energy levels.

Mind Your Medications

Consult your healthcare provider about any adjustments to your medication regimen during the summer months. Some medications may increase sensitivity to sunlight or dehydration, so it’s essential to be informed and proactive about potential side effects.

Here are some additional tips that can benefit anyone looking to beat the heat:

1. Cool Showers and Baths: Taking cool showers or baths can lower your body temperature quickly and provide instant relief from the heat.

2. Use Cooling Products: Invest in cooling products such as cooling towels, neck wraps, or gel packs that you can freeze and wear around your neck or on your wrists. These can provide a refreshing sensation and help regulate your body temperature.

3. Eat Light and Fresh: Opt for light, refreshing meals that are easy to digest. Fresh fruits and vegetables with high water content, such as watermelon, cucumber, and berries, can help keep you hydrated. Avoid heavy, hot meals that can increase your body temperature.

4. Stay Indoors During Peak Heat Hours: Plan your outdoor activities wisely by avoiding the peak heat hours, typically between 10 AM and 4 PM. If you need to be outside during these hours, take frequent breaks in shaded or cool areas.

5. Use Fans and Ventilation: Create a cross-breeze in your home by strategically placing fans near windows and doorways. Ceiling fans can also help circulate air effectively. If possible, use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture in the air, which can make it feel cooler.

6. Hydrating Snacks: Snack on hydrating foods such as popsicles, smoothies, or frozen grapes. These not only help keep you cool but also provide essential nutrients and hydration.

7. Dress Appropriately: Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing in light colors that reflect sunlight. Natural fabrics like cotton and linen are breathable and can help keep you cool.

8. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid sugary or alcoholic beverages, as these can contribute to dehydration.

9. Close Curtains and Blinds: Keep curtains and blinds closed during the hottest part of the day to block out direct sunlight and reduce indoor temperatures.

10. Take Advantage of Water: If you have access to a pool, lake, or ocean, take a refreshing dip to cool off. Even dipping your feet in a basin of cool water can help lower your overall body temperature.

By incorporating these tips into your summer routine, you can stay cool and comfortable even when the temperatures are soaring. Whether you're managing a chronic condition like Lupus or simply trying to beat the heat, prioritizing self-care and staying mindful of your body's needs will help you make the most of the summer season.

If you need more 1:1 help for Lupus - check out my mini-course to get started with dietary changes that can help you feel your best with Lupus

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