Woman sitting in front of an air conditioner, surrounded by sunshine, a thermometer, slushy, a cold shower and Popsicle.

Summer on the Horizon: Heat and RA

Last updated: June 2021

Can you believe it's June? That means summer is here! Or, for those of us who live in Florida, summer has been here since the last week of March.

Flaring RA symptoms during the summer

It's time for the beach, relaxing, having fun, and extremely hot weather. My situation makes it a little more difficult because I'm in the Panhandle where, for instance, this entire week the high is in the range of 95 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit.

And what I've noticed is that the increasing temperature is causing a host of symptoms that are somewhat related to having RA including more joint pain, headaches, joint stiffness, sinus problems (maybe), and more.

How I stay cool in the heat

Instead of just describing these symptoms that I've been experiencing, I want to take the time to also discuss some tips and tricks that I've started to employ to feel better in the summer months.

Cool showers

I've written before that a hot shower feels amazing on swollen joints and in general when relaxing. However, hot showers aren't the most effective during the summer when it's really hot outside, which is why I transition to colder showers.

They feel better, they help cool down skin that is feeling the effects of the Florida heat, and they don't last as long (you know, because the water is cold and who wants to be super frigid for long periods of time).

I've also found that cold water can help alleviate some of the joint pressure and pain that I experience throughout my body. Honestly, I would have expected the opposite to be true (and sometimes it is), but maybe this switch is related to the change to summer.

Cold drinks and frozen treats

Thinking back on my happiest memories of summer, I envision cold drinks and treats: lemonade, frozen slushies, iced coffee, ice cream, popsicles, and more.

I'm not sure if it's the actual food or the memories associated with these (or just the fact that they help cool you down), but all of these - in healthy moderation - help me to feel better when I'm experiencing a flare-up of my RA symptoms in the summer.

Leisurely activities in the AC

Sometimes, the heat is just too much to bear, which means you need to retreat to AC in order to cool down. If your home doesn't have AC (thankfully my apt does — I think any Florida apartment has to have it!), then you usually have to resort to a store, mall, or a friend's house for that chilled air.

I know down in South Florida, the malls were often so crowded because it was one of the few places where you could spend a few hours shopping, reading, relaxing, and more, all within the comfort of AC. This leads me to my next item...

Staying active indoors

Exercising in the summer is terrible! You might feel like you're getting more of a workout (and often you are because you're sweating so much more). The heat zaps energy quickly and can leave you feeling drained quicker than in other seasons.

This is why I like to modulate some of my summer exercising and activities indoors, in places like the gym, a mall (for walking), or even switching to a new exercise routine that incorporates swimming in order to combat the heat.

Heat and my RA symptoms

These are my few tips to help battle the summer heat when you have RA. These aren't all the tips and tricks ever. They're just the ones that have worked for me, but I hope some have resonated with you!

Let me know how you're keeping cool during these summer months!

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