When the weather heats up, it’s important to consider how the heat may impact your Parkinson’s symptoms – or those of your loved one. Here are some tips to help to stay safe and manage your Parkinson’s in Summer:
1) Protect Your Skin
While researchers don’t know exactly why, people with Parkinson’s have an increased risk of the skin cancer melanoma, making it vital to keep your skin protected in the Sun. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) notes that genetics, environmental factors or immune system changes may all play a role in this. Wear sunscreen of SPF 50+ when you’re outside and consider a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes. MJFF also recommends booking a skin check at least yearly to check for melanoma.
2) Stay hydrated
Hot weather than make Parkinson’s symptoms such as low blood pressure and dehydration worse. In turn this causes dizziness, lightheadedness and fatigue. Doctors recommend drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, so aim for more if you’re out for long periods or exercising outdoors. Avoid excessive tea, coffee and alcohol, which can contribute to dehydration.
3) Manage your medications
If you’re travelling over Summer or during holiday seasons, make sure you have enough medication for your time away, as well as extra days in case of delays or changes to your plans. Storage of medication is important too – keep them in your carry-on if travelling by plan, or make sure you don’t leave them in a hot car if driving.
4) Be mindful of body temperature
People living with Parkinson’s often experience changes to sweat and perspiration. Some people experience under secretion, resulting in very dry skin. Others may find their sweat excessively. Fight Parkinson’s notes that perspiration helps regulate the body’s temperature so any changes need to be monitored. If you have too little sweat, it’s important to avoid getting too hot as you won’t have the natural defense of perspiration to keep the body cool. It’s also recommended to consult your doctor before exposure to extreme heat sources like infra-red or steam saunas.
5) Keep your cool
Try to avoid any strenuous activity. If you can, stay indoors between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its hottest. If you do go out, make sure you stay in the shade where possible. Try to make sure you have enough medication and plenty of food and drink at home, so you don’t need to go out when the sun is at its hottest. Loose cotton clothing will help you to stay cooler, and splashing cold water on your face or neck regularly helps too.
Find out more about managing common Parkinson’s symptoms.