How to Beat the Heat this Summer
Heat intolerance is one of the few POTS symptoms I’ve had for as long as I can remember. I went to a Catholic private school for all of elementary and high school which involved wearing a uniform. In high school I remember being so uncomfortable with my white polo shirt and kilt in the winter because I thought it was too hot. My friends complained of our school being too cold and opted to wear the black uniform jacket and tights instead of the knee-high socks I wore instead. By the end of every single school day, I had a headache and was sweating. My mom would pick up my brothers and I and I would sit in the front seat, mumble to my mom to turn on the AC, while my brothers and mom complained of how cold it was. Then I would get home, sometimes take some Tylenol, nap, and wake up feeling better.
By grade 10 I had a bottle of cooling pain spray in my locker, my school backpack, and purse. By the time I had a car, I packed a couple bottles in there too. My heat intolerance has been one of the symptoms I've had for the majority of my life. I used to think that my chronic neck and head pain were what was causing my heat intolerance, since they always came on at the same time. I thought that if I could figure out the cause of my neck pain, and treat it, then I'd no longer experience heat intolerance. I now realize that these symptoms were POTS/EDS symptoms.
The autonomic nervous system regulates the body's temperature. With POTS, this is one autonomic function that has gone haywire. We don't just suffer with heat intolerance, though, we also often experience intolerance to cold temperatures. However, it is the heat that really aggravates our typical POTS symptoms. Heat exhaustion often mimics signs of POTS in a healthy person, so when you have POTS and your body can't cool itself off, you're more prone to heat exhaustion.
I live in Western Canada where our summers are usually between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius (between 68 and 86 degrees Fareinheit). Unlike most POTSies, summer is actually my favourite season. During the rest of the year, I am constantly catching viruses that flare my symptoms, spending less time in nature (something I really love to do), and having my mood affected by the dreary weather. Since our summers aren't super intense, they've always been my favourite. However, I often overheat when I'm inside a place that doesn't have A/C, no matter what month it is. The still, warm air inside a restaurant seems to affect me more than the summer's heat and soft wind.
People with POTS often have one of two issues when it comes to heat intolerance: either their body doesn't produce sweat, or they sweat a ton; both are a result of the body's attempts to cool itself down. Heat intolerance is one of the many symptoms of POTS that can significantly interfere with our daily lives, but I've learned some ways to make it more manageable.
1. Peppermint oil diluted in a carrier oil (I usually use fractioned coconut oil) in a roller bottle. Peppermint oil has a cooling effect. When my heat intolerance hits, I like to rub it in on the back of my neck, my wrists, the inside of my elbows and knees, and my forehead. It's also really effective when used on the bottom of your feet if possible. This has replaced my old go-to pain spray that I used throughout high-school.
2. Cooling wipes. I used to use these a lot before I started using peppermint oil. I still keep these in my bags just in case, but I try to use them less because the individual wrapping makes them less eco-friendly. When I first developed POTS, my mom found disposable cooling wipes marketed toward golfers and Menopausal women so check the feminine product aisle of your drug store. My old favourite cooling wipes were all-natural (and most effective) but have unfortunately been discontinued. The next best option for me has been "Be Kool's Cooling Wipes".
3. A cooling towel. My brother's girlfriend bought me this "Mission" cooling towel for a past birthday and it's been super helpful! Just run it under really cold water, ring it out, and use it to cool yourself off for a couple of hours. If you bring a water bottle around everywhere like I do, you can re-soak it when it starts losing its effect later on in the day.
4. Electrolyte drinks. I prefer Nuun tablets, Recoveror's, and Dr. Price's Electrolyte Mix.
5. A portable fan. I don't bring one of these around with me but I used to bring it when I traveled or went to the beach. Some people with POTS also swear by portable fans that spray mist at you.
6. A cooling vest. I haven't tried a cooling vest before, but I know many POTSies who have found this to be a great investment. Check out this link to see Healthline's top 10 rated cooling vests for Multiple Sclerosis.
7. Dress in layers. This might seem like a giveaway but since POTS can be so unpredictable, we have to dress in a way that accommodates when you feel hot, then cold, then hot, then cold..
8. A cooling headband/bandanna. I don't personally have one, but I bought something similar for my dog, Fozzy! You soak it in water, ring it out, and it stays cool for hours! Fozzy loves it! So I decided to do some quick research to see if they make something similar for humans, and they do! Check out a few I found here, here, here, and here.
9. A portable AC unit. I have both a big AC unit in my apartment that keeps my main living area cool, and a smaller AC unit for in my room. My mom bought me this small Evapolar AC unit for my birthday last year and it's been so helpful! If you live in a small apartment, a dorm, or would find this helpful in your office/desk area, I'd highly recommend it!
10. A cooling arm band. I haven't personally tried this option but it's made from the same brand (Mission) that made my awesome cooling towel. Check it out here.
How do you beat the heat? Share your tips and tricks in the comment section below!
accompanied my chronic neck and head pain so I assumed it was caused by that. I thought that I wouldn’t deal with this heat intolerance once I could figure out, ause of this pain.
I learned to live with heat intolerance from a young age, but this intolerance inten