Temperature Control and Multiple Sclerosis

cooling vestIf you have multiple sclerosis then you are certainly aware of the pain associated with higher temperatures. Staying cool is a very important part of dealing with the pain associated with this disease.

For those of you who don’t know, multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the way the brain and spinal cord communicate with each other. It causes degradation in the myelin sheaths that insulate fibers called axons. These axons are like data cables that carry information from one place to the other. If the rubber insulation on a cable were to wear away its ability to transmit signals diminishes. The same happens for our axons when the myelin sheath degrades.

One of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis is a heightened sensitivity to high temperatures. Patients often avoid hot showers and humid locations. High temperatures cannot always be avoided though. One solution that has been invented is the multiple sclerosis cooling vest.

There are two types of cooling vests for multiple sclerosis: passive and active. Passive devices are non-mechanical and very portable, whereas active vests are a bit more complex.

Passive Cooling Vests

This type is very portable and is on the cheaper side of multiple sclerosis cooling vests. The design of this product can be as simple as a nylon vest with ice pack inserts. The drawback is that ice packs may in fact be too cold.

Phase change cooling vests solve this problem. These are made of a material that can hold a constant temperature between 53 and 55 degrees for about three hours. All you need to do is pop them into a refrigerator for 15 minutes and they are recharged. Ice pack inserts can still have a role in fighting off heavy outdoor heat.

Active Cooling Vests

One of the downfalls of a passive cooling vest for multiple sclerosis is that it consistently needs to be recharged and cooled down. Active vests seriously limit this problem. Being that they are a battery powered system, they do not need to be recharged as often. Though they can be significantly more expensive than a passive device, this shouldn’t stop you from looking into it. Insurance companies will sometimes pay for an active cooling vest if it is approved by your physician.

Hopefully now you know a little more about multiple sclerosis and cooling vests. This is a disease that (for now) does not have a cure. Despite that, the symptoms can be managed and relief can be had.


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