Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive autoimmune disease with symptoms that can be made worse by heat. Approximately 200 new cases are diagnosed every week in the United States. If you've recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis there are a few important things you need to be aware of regarding heat intolerance and your need for air conditioning. Here's what you need to know.

Heat Can Make Multiple Sclerosis Flare-Up

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis (which includes pain, fatigue, impaired coordination, loss of muscle control, numbness, and poor vision) can be made worse when you are too hot. The reason for this is easy to understand when you think of the outer lining of the nerves (called the myelin sheath) as being similar to the protective coating of electrical wiring.

When someone has multiple sclerosis this coating isn't as thick as it should be. This is what can cause overheating. Think of it in a way similar to house electric wires, which overheat when they don't have a protective coating. And, of course, without the protective coating, the nerves are more sensitive and this is what causes flare-ups of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Flare-Ups Can Make the Progression of MS Faster

Generally the symptoms will return to baseline when the core body temperature returns to normal. Colder temperatures usually reduce multiple sclerosis symptoms. Baseline is what the patient considers to be normal for his or her body, which is different from one patient to the next.

The important thing to understand about multiple sclerosis is that it is a progressive disease and each time that you relapse it can be more difficult to go back to baseline. For this reason, you definitely want to keep your body from becoming overheated, which can be difficult in the hottest month of the summer, especially if you live in an area where the climate is hot and intolerable without air conditioning.

Air Conditioning Is a "Must Have"

Because of this problem with heat intolerance causing relapse in multiple sclerosis, there are several financial assistance programs that are available for patients to make sure that they have adequate air conditioning in their homes. Financial assistance is also available to help pay for air conditioning repair when it's needed.

If you do not have adequate air conditioning or your system needs repaired, speak with your physician about the paperwork you'll need to apply for financial assistance programs. If you rent, these same programs can be utilized by your landlord on your behalf for your benefit.

Due to the fact that air conditioning is necessary for your health, you may want to consider installing a generator for your home to power the air conditioning system just enough in case there's ever a power outage in your area that way you won't suffer from a relapse from being in excessive heat. However, if this is not an option for your personal situation, you should have a large battery-operated fan available to use in case the power goes out or your air conditioner stops working.

Also, it's a good idea to have an air conditioning repair service, such as A Bailey Plumbing, on your phone's speed dial, just in case repairs or maintenance is ever necessary. That way, you won't have to fumble around with the phone book looking for contact information, which can be extremely difficult if your symptoms flare-up and you lose muscle control.

Another thing you may want to consider is installing a remote starter in your vehicle and keeping the A/C on in your car. That way, when you need to go somewhere on a hot day you won't put yourself at risk of relapsing and causing your disease to worsen.