Summertime...And the Living is NOT Easy!
Ah, Summer...brings back dreams of running wild as a child, swimming, and, oh yeah, fainting in public!
It's lovely to feel like a 60 year old woman in the throws of menopause, isn't it? Not so much. So I have a few tips and tricks that have helped me over the years. I still have a lot of trouble during the whole summer, and have to spend most of my time indoors; but, at least these can keep you from fainting and might make your days a little bit better.
Fans: It can be helpful to have a fan in your house nearby so that you can cool off quickly during "hot flashes". I also carry a tiny battery-powered hand fan in my purse for "emergency" overheating.
Cooling Neck Wraps: These are cool neck ties that contain crystals that absorb water when submerged for about 30 min, then slowly release it to keep you cool. They are great when you are more concerned about staying cool and keeping from passing out than getting your collar a bit wet. Best for outdoor activities.
Head scarves: I find that my hair can be a real problem for me when I am overheating and anything I can do to get it off of my neck is helpful. Head scarves are nice because they keep the hair completely off of your neck and do not give you a migraine like having your hair in a ponytail can (and, yes, the cheap ones work just fine).
HATS, hats and more hats: a baseball hat or similar style is helpful for everyday shade (shopping, etc). Sun hats are essential for any long exposure to the sun (at the beach, a picnic, etc). I wear a hat pretty much any time that I'm going to be outside for more than 5 minutes!
Scarves: My friend (and fellow POTSie) Ashleigh taught me all about the benefits of scarves. You may ask: "um, it's HOT, why would I use a scarf?" Well, it can be helpful to use a lightweight scarf (i like jersey) to protect your skin if you get overheated (and have skin as pale as a ghost like yours truly), or to use when you change from the outside hot weather to the inside freezing temps. It's an absolutely essential tool for all seasons, just pick scarves that are heavier or lighter based on the temp. I also think it's important to pick really big scarves that fold up small so that you can wear them with any outfit as an accent, but then fold them out like a shawl to cover shoulders if you need it. Luckily, they're also in style now so you can often find them for cheap at places like Old Navy, Target, etc.
Layers: We all know how having dysautonomia means having no control over your body temperature. It can be so maddening to be overheating like crazy just because you had a hot drink, or freezing because you're near the air conditioning unit. One of the best ways to deal with these temperature fluctuations all year is to dress in lots of layers: short sleeve or tank top, scarf, cardigan, jacket depending on the outdoor temp (ie don't wear a jacket in 90 degree weather). This system has been helpful for me in controlling some of the temp changes.
Stay-dry clothing: These lightweight, exercise clothes can be helpful if you are overheating consistently and want to stay cool and dry.
Sunglasses: with dysautonomia comes sensitivity to light...so I even wear light colored sunglasses inside around fluorescent lights, therefore they are even more important outside. Get a few pairs in different shades and sizes (big ones for when it's super bright, smaller and lighter for overcast days or inside).
Some people have also found Cooling Vests helpful if you have a severe problem with the heat or fainting. I have not personally used them, so I can't give any advice, but I know that some people (especially people with MS) find them to be very helpful.
I also think that it's important to stay in the shade if at all possible to extend the amount of time that you can handle being outside. Hats can help some, and if you'll be on the beach for any amount of time it's useful to be under an umbrella.
Sometimes, if I get super overheated, I might use those "fever reducing" ice pack gels that you can get for kids or some similar kind of gel ice pack. It's nice to put on your forehead or neck for a quick cool down. But, at least in my case, be careful not to do it for too long or you'll have to break out the blankets!
And of course, don't forget WATER and electrolyte drinks! The most important tip of all is to keep yourself well hydrated! I probably drink twice as much when I'm in the sun than I do on a regular day inside. Make sure that you have water and other drinks with you at all times.
Hope you guys found this list helpful! I'm sure that I have missed some things, so please feel free to add your tips in the comments section so that everyone can benefit from your advice. Good luck surviving the summer fellow POTSies!