The Effects of the Climate on my Health Issues

When I was diagnosed with Lupus, I was advised to stay out of the sun as much as possible, and to wear hats and clothing to cover up, and to have sunscreen on 100% of the time. The sun can cause Lupus to act up. Even before I was told this, I instinctively avoided being in the sun a lot because it just makes me feel tired and yucky.

Addison’s Disease frequently causes an imbalance of electrolytes in the blood stream, and if you’ve ever been active on a hot day you know that being dehydrated can make your muscles hot and crampy. It can be hard to deal with Addison’s on a hot day. Most Addisonians can’t drink gatorade/powerade because we are at risk for having high levels of potassium in our blood stream, and shouldn’t consume food and drink with extra potassium in it. I actually don’t have to worry about this, but I still don’t drink the sports drinks. They’re too sugary and science has suggested that they are carcinogenic.

I live in Southern California, where it is hot, sunny, and dry for a good part of the year. I do not have air conditioning where I live. During this period of weather, it is a struggle to stay well. The heat makes my muscles ache pretty badly. On a cold day, when I have achy muscles, I like to put on menthol muscle rubs and a heat pad as a distraction to the pain, but who wants to do that when it’s 90 out and you’re sweating your tits off? And no, the hot air doesn’t help the pain(seems counter-intuitive, huh?). My body struggles to regulate my electrolytes as it is, and adding sweating profusely to the mix makes the pain that much worse. The heat also makes me very tired, but it is too hot to take a nap, unless I want to wake up all hot and sweaty and groggy. No thanks. The sun here is relentless. It’s rarely ever cloudy, and when it is, I’m really happy.

As you can imagine, I get really irritated with people’s general response to the weather around here. I’ve heard the weatherman describe 90 degree weather with 7% humidity and 40+mph Santa Ana winds as “nice.” And people describe 60 degrees and drizzling as “freezing and miserable.” The cold rainy days are when I feel my best and I feel like slapping people who whine about it. By December I should be in the clear as far as being done with any hot dry weather, but last Christmas eve it was hot, so we’ll see.

I hate California.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi there

    I’ve found managing Addison’s in heat is such a pain too. I thought I would pass on some advice I received from an Endocrinologist here in the UK: Professor John Wass, from Churchill Hospital in Oxford. Also have you heard of ‘Foundry Lemonade’? I use this a lot for my AD in the summer. You place 4 level teaspoons of salt and 4 heaped teaspoons of sugar in a heat-resistant jug or container. Pour on 1 litre of boiling water, stir and leave to cool, the cover. If possible, store in the fridge.

    This recipe comes from the foundry industry; each man took his own mix to counteract the effects of working with the furnaces. For a more genteel version, you could add some slice of lemon, a pinch of citric acid and extra sugar. I use this as a cordial and dilute it with water. The main difference between this and over-the-counter electrolyte remedies is that this version doesn’t contain potassium. If you are out and about though and need something to get you home, a sachet of salt (that they have in fast food chains) in a bottle of lemonade/7-UP/Sprite, works well as a quick trick!

    Below is the comments from Professor John Wass which I mentioned above:

    MANAGING ADDISON’S IN HOT WEATHER
    Question: Do you think it is necessary to increase the fludrocortisone dose or take extra salt/drink electrolyte solution during periods of exceptionally hot weather, such as last summer’s heatwave when we had temperatures of over 30 ̊C for more than a week? What about for travel overseas where the temperature will be over 30?

    This really depends on the individual, what their blood pressure is like, and how easily they dehydrate. There has not been any detailed medical research on this point, so individuals must use their common sense and monitor their own symptoms. Even among people with healthy adrenal function, you will find a wide range in how well people tolerate a heatwave.
    Everyone needs to drink more fluid than usual, especially the very young and very old. It is easy to become dehydrated in hot weather; A nagging headache in hot weather may well be a warning sign of dehydration. Soluble paracetamol contains moderate doses of sodium; this makes it a better choice for people with Addison’s than capsules or tablets.
    If you are doing any kind of strenuous physical activity in the heat, you will need to replace the body salts lost in sweat. Electrolyte solution can be useful here. Sports drinks are typically less helpful as they do not usually contain enough sodium. If you are drinking a lot of fruit juice, it is prudent to dilute the juice half-and-half with water and add a pinch of salt, to ensure your sodium and potassium intake remain balanced.
    For anyone who has a tendency to high blood pressure, it is probably unnecessary to adjust the fludrocortisone or salt intake in a heatwave.
    But someone whose blood pressure tends to be on the low side may find they feel dizzy and uncomfortable in a heatwave. If you regularly experience uncomfortable symptoms during a heatwave, it can be helpful to have a home blood pressure cuff to check your blood pressure.
    Where the blood pressure is low, your doctor should advise you to increase the fludrocortisone during hotter weather. In general, it is safe to increase the fludrocortisone by 50% during periods of hot weather, but this is best done in consultation with your GP or endocrinologist.
    If you rarely eat sliced breads, processed foods or ready- cook meals, your salt intake may be towards the lower end of the recommended daily amount. (The essential daily minimum = 0.6g sodium, recommended daily average = 1.6g sodium or a level teaspooon of table salt). Therefore, someone with a healthier diet is more likely to need to boost their salt intake in hot weather than someone whose everyday diet is already high in salt.
    In general, it is safe to supplement the salt intake in hot weather by using Slow Sodium tablets, manufactured by HK Pharma Ltd. These are available over-the-counter or on prescription. Three tablets a day gives you the recommended daily minimum intake of 0.6g sodium. This should be sufficient salt supplementation for most people with Addison’s, but you should check this with your GP or endocrinologist if you are at all unsure about your blood pressure or electrolyte balance.

    • This is great, I’ve never heard of this recipe before. I live in a climate where it’s 30 C for a good chunk of the year, and I hate every minute of it! Bring on the cold weather! haha. It’s interesting because I feel like I should be drinking sports drinks but the potassium always kind of deters me from buying them. There are plenty of salty foods out there to eat but I always feel like it’s not the right kind of salt and I’m better off having something ‘home made’ with sodium chloride rather than all the nitrates and whatnot that are in foods nowadays. I’ve been taking a magnesium oxide supplement for a few months now and it seems like it helps with muscle cramps, especially leg cramps at night when I’m trying to sleep. I started off with 800mg daily for the first month and then after that 400mg daily. Magnesium oxide seems to be the form of magnesium that is absorbed the best. I’ve had other magnesiums and they don’t work as well, or even at all it seems.

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