Heat is a big problem for people with Adrenal Insufficiency. To be honest, I don’t fully understand, but it’s something to do with how sodium works in the body and dehydration being a cause of adrenal crisis.
Here’s what I do know: Heat uses up cortisol quicker than on an average day. Most people feel lethargic in the heat, but this gets amplified for me. On a hot day, any tolerance I have to do things vanishes- my muscles seize up, I sweat a lot, I get cramps and spasms, my pain level gets a lot worse, I get a stomach ache that doesn’t go away despite all my pain killers, I lack even more in coordination, I start to shake at the slightest exertion and my brain fogs up even more than usual.
‘Well, if you’re hot and might get dehydrated, just drink more!’ Yes, I thought this too, this is how I survived last Summer. Unfortunately, when I did this, I was drinking a minimum of 6 litres of water a day, 9 being an average day and a whopping 12 litres on bad days. This basically meant I flushed out my electrolytes, causing me other problems and still putting me at risk of crisis, just in a different way. I’m on a 3 litre fluid restriction, which is hard enough on non-hot days. Cold showers are also a bad idea- if you’ve read the news, you’ll see some people have died from ‘shocking’ their systems when they’ve used freezing cold water to cool themselves down. Shock, even from cold water, requires a big splash of cortisol, which I wouldn’t make.
So, on really hot days I:
– stay inside or in the shade during the hottest part of the day.
– lie still and do very little.
– drink cold fluids, some with added electrolytes.
– eat frozen grapes and ice lollies.
– carry a fan if I go out.
-ask for help with anything and everything I need, rather than trying to do things for myself.
– stress dose Hydrocortisone, if needed.
I used to love sunny weather, still do. Providing I can find a patch of shade to lie down in and do nothing except for watch the clouds pass!