It’s hot, hot, HOT in NYC! Is it just me, or does this summer seem to be one heatwave after the next? All these ninety-degree days have been putting my methods of controlling my POTS symptoms to the test. If you’re wondering how to survive the heat with POTS, then you’re in luck! I’ve got some tips to help you get through any heatwave and stay as cool as possible.
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1. Remember Your Electrolytes
I have to say this first because it is SO IMPORTANT!!! When it’s hot, we sweat. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes. And we don’t want to lose electrolytes! They are essential to many bodily functions, like muscle and nerve function, and keeping the body hydrated. And staying hydrated with POTS is key to managing symptoms.
To survive the summer heat, I stock up on Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier packets. I got a bunch of the lemon-lime flavor, as that’s always been my go-to. But there are so many flavors to choose from now! I really want to try the watermelon or guava flavors. Has anyone had them yet? Whatever your go-to electrolyte drink is, make sure you’re stocked up on it before a heatwave hits.
2. Make Lots of Ice Cubes
Speaking of drinking electrolytes, throw some ice cubes into your drink before you toss it back! I’m pretty much on ice-making duty 24/7 these past few days because I consume so much ice. But it really works! Stir in the ice before you drink so your entire glass gets cold. You’ll feel your body cooling from the inside out.
3. Use Ice Wraps
After cooling your body on the inside, it’s time to cool it on the outside. That’s where flexible ice wraps are suuuper helpful. They’re not just for injuries or sore muscles!
When my boyfriend (Mike) and I returned from our evening walk the other night, I was very overheated. I felt like a big, swollen, sweaty balloon from blood pooling (plus, my body just tends to swell in general in the heat). Mike brought me my ice wrap (Elasto-Gel Cold Wrap — LOVE) and lovingly placed it on my head as a joke. Joke or not, it felt incredible! Then I put it around my neck and stomach, down my back, and on my thighs and feet, all for a few minutes each. The ahhh was real.
4. Take a Cool Shower
If you don’t have ice wraps, a cool shower is the next best thing. But it’s also great to do in addition to laying ice wraps all over your body.
Another favorite cooling method of mine? Filling a bathtub with icy cold water and sticking my feet in for a soak. As I’ve said, my feet swell and hold so much heat, so you can imagine how ah-mazing this feels–especially after a walk or standing for a long time. Alternatively, you can use a large pot if you don’t have a bathtub. Just wash it before cooking in it again! *Winkey-face.
5. Put Your Feet Up
I’ve talked a lot about blood pooling in this post, but it’s a common problem POTS patients face on the daily. It not only causes uncomfortable swelling, but it also causes pain and a whole host of other POTS symptoms. Why? Because too much blood just sitting around means not enough blood is circulating in our bodies. Cue the POTS symptoms!
Since heat causes vasodilation and encourages blood pooling in the lower halves of our bodies, putting your feet up is a great maneuver to counteract this effect. To do this, I love to lie either on the floor or my bed and stick my (clean) feet up against the wall. While this won’t help cool you off any, it will help with the discomfort of blood pooling. It’s a lifesaver when it comes to surviving the heat with POTS!
6. Treat Yourself to Ice Cream
I am always screaming for ice cream. Nevermind that dairy sometimes upsets my stomach; it’s a risk I’m all too willing to take! (Who can relate?!) But there are also SO many different varieties of dairy-free ice cream now, so even if you don’t eat dairy, there are other options for you!
Anyways, ice cream is another top way I stay cool on really hot days. And on not-so-hot days. There really isn’t ever a bad time for ice cream. I would still eat it in the heart of winter, wrapped up in ten blankets and enjoying every last bite. Weaknesses. We all have them.
7. Monitor Your Blood Pressure
As someone with POTS, if you’re going to survive the heat, it’s crucial to monitor your blood pressure throughout the day. Did you know that low blood pressure is a marker of dehydration? It sure is!
Typically, I only take my blood pressure in the morning or if I’m feeling very symptomatic. However, in a heatwave, I take it several times throughout the day. This helps me assess how I’m doing as far as keeping my body hydrated. If my blood pressure is too low, I’ll drink more LiquidIV. If my blood pressure is stable, I’ll stick with plain ice water.
Remember, too much sodium can make your blood pressure high! So it’s probably not a good idea to just down multiple packets of any electrolyte drink without checking your blood pressure in between. It can be annoying to check it so often, but the Omron Blood Pressure Wrist Monitor I use makes it quick and easy. (Just make sure you’ve been sitting for at least five minutes before taking a reading! See more tips here.)
8. Make A Cold Compress
If your ice wrap is still chilling in the freezer and you’ve already showered for the day, your next line of defense against the heat is a cold compress. Take a washcloth (or a hand towel–whatever you’ve got) and wet it with cold water. Wrap an ice cube or two inside it if you want to get it even cooler.
You can do whatever you’d like with this! Lie down and drape it over your forehead, or wipe down your arms and legs. Maybe you want to put it around the back of your neck–that’s great too!
9. Go For A Swim
Who doesn’t love to swim during summertime? If you can, go swimming as much as you can! It’s a fantastic way to survive the heat with POTS! If I had a pool or access to a beach nearby, I’d totally be doing this one. All. The. Time. I love swimming, and it’s also a great workout for people with POTS. But the closest thing I have to a pool is the bathtub in my new apartment, sooo sadly, this won’t be a go-to solution for me. But it may be for you!
So, there you have it: my tips for surviving the summer heat when you have POTS. I’m sure there are plenty of other ideas out there that I didn’t mention to stay cool in a heatwave, but this is what I’ve been doing recently! Let me know how you’re surviving the heat this summer and if you use any other ways to cool off!
Check out my other top POTS triggers besides heat next to see what else I try to avoid or minimize to control my symptoms!
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