Into the Fire: Summer Heat with Fibro

back view of young woman at cruise ship in sunhat and with waving at the wind scarf

Image: Aleksei Potov/Shutterstock

To most people, summer is one of the best times of the year. You can go outside in flip-flops instead of snow boots and spend your weekends at cookouts or on a friend’s boat. But when you have fibromyalgia, summer can be miserable. For many fibro sufferers, the rising thermometer during summer heat brings an increase in pain and fatigue. Even though many fibro sufferers start out with problems during rainy and cold seasons, heat sensitivity seems to come along as the disease progresses. If you’re already dreading another summer, follow some of these cool-down tips to make your life more manageable.

Avoid going outdoors during the peak heat of the day. You don’t want to become a shut-in during the summer and should try to make your life as normal as possible. However, the day’s heat is worst in the afternoon, so you may want to limit your outdoor activities to the early morning or late evening. If you do have to be outdoors during the hottest part of the day, wear a hat and stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing. A lot of fibro sufferers are very sensitive to tight clothing and constricting fabrics. Even if you can personally tolerate tight, binding clothing, you should avoid it during the summer because it can be very insulating and make you feel hotter. Choose a summer wardrobe of loose-fitting clothes made of cotton, which will wick sweat away from your body and help you to stay cool.

Make sure to stay hydrated. It’s easy to get dehydrated on a hot summer day, and fibro patients find it harder to recover once they lose too many fluids. Clear, cold water is the best option if you can tolerate it. But if you’re not a big fan of plain water, cold water with sliced cucumbers or fruit is a refreshing and light-tasting alternative. Iced tea is also refreshing on a hot day—just be careful to choose a caffeine-free variety or to balance it with water, because caffeine can also be dehydrating.

Avoid spicy food. Nobody is saying that your summer diet has to be boring, but eating a lot of spicy food will raise your internal thermostat. Choose foods with a high water content instead, which fortunately includes some of summer’s best treats like popsicles and watermelon.

Have lozenges or hard candies on hand in case your throat gets dry. Many fibro sufferers find that a dry throat is one of the most painful side effects of hot weather. Sucking on a lozenge or hard candy can help fight this symptom and make you more comfortable.

Hide out in front of a fan or air conditioner. It’s totally okay to stay indoors on the hottest days of the year! Air conditioning and fans were created for a reason. Running your wrists under cold water is another little trick that can help to cool your body temperature.

Summer can be uncomfortable with fibromyalgia but with a little effort you can sail through the season. Just make sure to get a little bit of sun, since the vitamin D exposure will help you manage your symptoms, too.