I must lower my body temperature
August 29, 2018 7:45 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering the purchase of something like this vest (or, failing that, an elaborate cybernetic exoskeleton a la Mister Freeze) to cope with my increasingly intolerable daily warmness. I seek the hive mind's feedback on cooling attire or other methods I may not have considered, especially from those of you with experience at this.

I have a high metabolism and have always been averse to exertion outside in summer, always been an AC addict, and always sweated like I weigh two hundred pounds more than I do. (I am of pretty much average weight for my height, though I don't exercise and am not particularly "in shape.") I drink at least 48 oz. of water per day, usually over the course of about seven hours.

The problem isn't so much that I sweat a lot (though I do, and would prefer a less shiny face at the end of a day). It's more the heat-induced fatigue that rapidly drains my ability to get the shit done that I must get done throughout the day. There have been days, more lately than in the past, when I get so warm at work that it makes me light-headed. (Which alarmed me enough to post this.)

I need a solution that will function 4-5 days per week through an 8-to-10-hour work day of mild to moderate exertion (i.e., it's not like I'm a firefighter). Ideally, this solution could be switched off, because there are times where I will (unpredictably) find myself in meat-locker-like conditions, only to wind up in a really warm room again within the hour.

My work uniform is a suit, though I don't wear a tie and don't button the top button. So it seems like a more-or-less undetectable vest under my overshirts (none of those are white) and sport jacket ought to work.

But I'm open to other means of lowering my temperature, even pharmaceutical ones, within reason of course :)

Assume that actually adjusting the temperature of my work environment is not an option. The environment is all-indoor and alternately high heat and humidity or just high heat, with those occasional and brief periods of turbo-AC that I mentioned above. I'm willing to spend…well, a fair amount, if I'm convinced it's a lasting solution. I have no access to a refrigerator or freezer at work.

If it matters: I'm just over 40, I take no prescription medication but I do usually have one or two different antihistamines going, and I live in the US.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you have access to a shower at work? I find that taking cold showers keeps me more comfortable for several hours. Maybe it would help if you could take a cold shower in the morning and another at lunch.
posted by MangoNews at 7:56 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Have you talked to a doctor? High metabolism and always being too hot can sometimes be a sign of undiagnosed hyper-thyroidism.
posted by vacapinta at 7:57 AM on August 29, 2018 [12 favorites]


One thing to consider is that if this wet vest makes your suit blazer and pants-waist a little damp for hours, they will exude an unpleasant smell. Blazers are stuffed with other fabrics to pad and shape them- so they'll dry slowly, and aren't cleaned as often. Pants get skin flakes and sweat embedded in them, which are protein, which will grow mildew. So I think you're asking for pretty stinky suits.

Also, that vest works by evaporating, but burying it under a shirt and blazer will hinder its ability to evaporate- so I don't know if it would even cool you. I think your skin would just warm the water and leave you wet and warm.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:59 AM on August 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


It's not a full vest, but you can buy cooling collars that you can freeze and then wear throughout the day. They are pretty effective, but come in varying levels of cheesy. It's probably more effective to have a collar/bandana; cooling the major blood vessels works pretty well... and any cooling vest is going to have plastic components that will chafe.

A quick fix though, as a fellow hot person, is to run your wrists under cool water every time you go to the restroom- cooling the blood works WAY faster and more efficiently than you'd expect and helps regulate heat. and no one really complains about you washing your hands for an extra 30 seconds longer. When it is super hot, I actually keep ice water at my desk, and while on calls, place my wrists on the cold water bottle.
posted by larthegreat at 8:00 AM on August 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


What is the temperature of your office? Most office spaces are effectively the same temperature all year 'round. If you're working in a normal office environment, you shouldn't find yourself overheating in the office during the summer months any more than you do during the winter months.


I would suggest investing in suits or separates that are meant to be worn during warm weather. You want breathable materials that will wick away moisture such as linen (Irish linen is best), lightweight "tropical" wools that include some cashmere and/or silk, or cottons (seersucker is a great choice). You also want these materials in open weave fabrics that will let air through. If it's unlined (which you want) you should be able to hold the garment up to your face and see through it. Because lining materials restrict airflow, you want minimal lining in the body of the jacket -- look for unlined, quarter-lined (aka "butterfly lining" only at the shoulders) or half-lined -- and no lining in the pants. For shirts, also look for open weaves and consider linen. These are not only good sartorial choices for the warmer months, but will be considerably more comfortable in hot weather than a fully lined "3 seasons weight" worsted wool suit.
posted by slkinsey at 8:15 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


The only thing which has ever worked for me is cutting calories.

In hot weather I eat half or two thirds as much as usual, and postpone eating at all (except for milk in my coffee) until late afternoon or early evening.
posted by jamjam at 8:19 AM on August 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


If money is no object, you could get one of these vests:

https://www.texascoolvest.com

They use chemical packs that you freeze, but they don't last all day, so you'd need access to a freezer to change the packs over the course of the day.

I have the light vest that this company offers. I have a very slight build, so for me it would not be undetectable under clothing, but your results may vary.

Bear in mind that this company's shipping rates are absurd.
posted by ionnin at 8:19 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ember labs has a wrist mounted cooling unit. It works surprisingly well, but I’ve only used it for a few minutes. I’m not sure it would keep up for a whole day. It’s currently outside my budget, but might be in yours.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:23 AM on August 29, 2018


I am not a doctor, but I second the suggestion to get checked out for hyperthyroidism.
posted by twoplussix at 8:34 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I would suggest investing in suits or separates that are meant to be worn during warm weather.

In addition, there are ultra-wicking performance underwears that are worth trying if you've never considered it: Airism, many others in the workout and outdoors worlds of apparel.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:38 AM on August 29, 2018


I've tried scarf/towel/hat versions of that evaporative vest, and have found them to perform disappointingly in high-humidity conditions. I also agree with those above who are suggesting that the vest would perform poorly under clothing (especially multiple layers of business attire). The phase-change activation versions would likely be more effective, but may be too bulky for this application.

Would you be able to obtain a small portable freezer and keep it somewhere at your workplace? You could keep it stocked with ice packs to place on your neck and wrists. Failing that, a Yeti or similar cooler that you stock daily with ice packs from your home freezer could work. If that's still not feasible, just a Yeti or similar insulated tumbler filled with large ice cubes?

I sympathise with your problems, because they are also my problems. One trick I use: the application of peppermint oil on my neck and wrists. This doesn't help with the sweating, but it does help me feel better. If scents are okay in your workplace, it's worth a shot (and even nicer when the oil is chilled before application). I'm fond of this stuff, and keep a small rollerball applicator in my pocket for hot gross days.
posted by halation at 8:57 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I also have this problem and little in terms of solutions, but I did want to mention that my doctors are constantly harassing me about how I should be drinking at least 64 oz of water (and they're right, when I manage to drink that much, I feel better) which may explain your lightheadedness. So drinking more water may help that part--putting ice in it may also increase the cooling factor.
posted by brook horse at 9:09 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


My daughter has Ectodermal Dysplasia, a genetic disorder which features, among other things, reduced to no sweat glands. There's a lot of discussion on cooling techniques/products in the discussion spaces. I would recommend checking it out. Search for the disorder and cooling techniques. There's a national foundation as well.
posted by orsonet at 9:36 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


See your doctor.

Evaporation is cooling, but not under a suit, as noted. Get a small spray bottle, the dollar store has them, and mist your hair. As it dries, it's mildly cooling. Splash water on your face frequently. Freeze water bottles, keep one or 2 on the floor, slip off your shoes, rest your feet on them, find small ones you can slip in your shirt pocket. Keep a fan under your desk, it's very effective even on low.

The best way to judge hydration is urine color. There are tons of charts, I use the color of apple juice as my guide - if it's that dark, I need water. If it's darker, lots of water. Cold drinks are cooling.
posted by theora55 at 11:01 AM on August 29, 2018


Maybe research which textiles might work for you and invest in clothing that works better at regulating your temperature. I run extremely hot at night and a pure 100 percent wool mattress has CHANGED my life completely- and for me in clothing I cannot wear any synthetics AT ALL...
posted by catspajammies at 1:40 PM on August 29, 2018


I use the color of apple juice as my guide - if it's that dark, I need water. If it's darker, lots of water.

I recently spent five days in the Urology ward of my local hospital, and the standard from all of the urologists I saw through my stay and the urologists at the hospital clinic I now go to routinely for ongoing management is clear. Your urine should be so pale it's near-as-dammit to clear.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:43 PM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I find drinking ice water to be one of the more effective ways to cool down quickly, especially in higher humidity (you mention drinking a lot of water, but not that it’s ice cold). You don’t need access to a fridge or freezer during the day - just get a thermos / water bottle (or three) that will keep your water cold. As a bonus, you can take out a piece of ice and put it on your wrist or the back of your neck occasionally.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:46 PM on August 29, 2018


Follow-up:
Is hyperthyroid something that would not be detected in normal physicals/blood work? Because I do get those.

I know I had at least one blood relative with a thyroid issue, but I don't know what variety, and she's dead, so I can't ask her.

Also:
If a test for hyperthyroid is anything other than routine, should I go through the hassle of getting it done at the Proper City Hospital Over an Hour Away, or can I rely on my Barely-Not-Rural Local Clinics Who've Previously Screwed Up More Often than Not with Non-Routine Stuff?

I recently spent five days in the Urology ward of my local hospital, and the standard from all of the urologists I saw through my stay and the urologists at the hospital clinic I now go to routinely for ongoing management is clear. Your urine should be so pale it's near-as-dammit to clear.

Well, it's rarely clear, so I guess I gotta up that water intake game. Ice-cold water is…difficult for my life circumstances, but not impossible.

Ember labs has a wrist mounted cooling unit. It works surprisingly well, but I’ve only used it for a few minutes. I’m not sure it would keep up for a whole day. It’s currently outside my budget, but might be in yours.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:23 AM on August 29


Eponysterical!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:24 PM on August 29, 2018


During our triple degree days this summer, I was still using ice backs on my back for pain. Husband would be complaining that the AC couldn't cool down enough to satisfy him, and I was wanting a sweat shirt or blankie!

Get a couple ice packs and freeze them overnight, then put them on ice in a cooler and trade them out at your desk. You could even freeze bottles of water to keep the ice packs cold, and then drink the water as it melts.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:30 PM on August 29, 2018


Testing for Hyperthyroid would be a bloodtest. Your rural doctor can order it just fine.

It's a fairly standard test, but not one on your yearly physical
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:08 PM on August 29, 2018


Is hyperthyroid something that would not be detected in normal physicals/blood work? Because I do get those.

I am not a doctor. My general recommendation was to go see one as the issues you describe might be medical as I and others have suggested - whether hyperthyroidism or something else. That said, I was diagnosed as hyper-thyroid in my 20's and one of the symptoms was being uncomfortably hot all the time.

The blood test is pretty standard but is not routine. Doctors generally have to ask for it. It is usually detected by looking at the amount of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) in your blood.
posted by vacapinta at 5:05 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


this may not be possible, but forget ice water, just go with ice. You don't have to chew it, just melt it in your mouth and let the cold water cool you from the inside out. I down an entire glass of ice over 15 minutes or so, and it cools me down for a while. Not sure if it's socially acceptable to carry around a glass of ice with you, but good luck.
posted by jindc at 6:08 AM on August 30, 2018


On the thyroid testing front, there's a routine test that's typically done if you just ask for a full blood panel, but there are also additional more specific thyroid tests you can do that will sometimes turn up an issue when the standard test does not. If you want to have that checked out, I would recommend specifically asking for the more in-depth testing.

So happens I was at my doctor yesterday talking about this - we want to be 100% sure that we've correctly ruled out thyroid issues, so we're going to do the more in-depth battery. So in case that's useful information: I've got a blood testing order sitting on my desk which includes: "TSH/Thy.Stim.Horm" (I think this is the standard one), "FREE T4", and "THYROID PEROXIDASE AB".

Please come back and tell us if you find a solution! I would love to be able to cool down and am eyeing that Ember wrist unit hard, even though I can't actually justify spending that kind of cash instead of running my wrists under the faucets periodically.
posted by Stacey at 6:15 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


thyroid tests should include TSH, T3 an Free T4 to get a true reading. Online, check out Mary Shomon for information, she covers it all.
posted by Enid Lareg at 6:23 PM on August 30, 2018


I found…a couple of semi-solutions.

Rather than buying that slick-looking wrist tech, I'm now packing extra cool packs with my lunch and, around midday, resting my wrists on them for as long as I can stand. The "cooling down the blood" thing is not something I would've thought of, but it does help.

Ice doesn't last very long for me in my circumstances, and I have nowhere to keep it cold, but since every little bit helps, I'm becoming more of an Ice Tyrant with myself.

I decided not to run out and get the hyperthyroid test because I have none of the other indicators for that. However, I will go to the doctor if these incremental measures can't seem to keep up, in case it's something else.

And thanks, MetaFilter, for talking me out of one of those cooling vest things!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 10:49 AM on September 12, 2018


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