Alleviating Heat Sensitivity
May 24, 2023 4:56 PM   Subscribe

What do you do when heat bothers you more than usual? I have to spend some time outside this summer due to commuting and I temporarily am very sensitive to heat - looking for beat the heat tips.

For boring medical reasons, I am temporarily very sensitive to heat. Anything over 80 degrees causes some GI distress and general over sweating, discomfort, etc.

I have a diagnosis and treatment plan to fix it in the medium term, and a good medical team, but other than treating the underlying issue, which will take 3-8 weeks to fully take effect, they didn’t have much practical advice.

I go into work in person 2-4 days a week and I have 15-20 minutes I need to spend outside twice a day as part of that. Sometimes that time is longer if there is a train delay, etc.

So… if you have heat sensitivity for whatever reason, what do you do to manage your time outside?
posted by eleanna to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
A parasol. A big hat.
posted by tristeza at 5:17 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]

Yes to a parasol if you’re in the sun. Add
- carrying as little as possible
- taking a water bottle with ice with you
- a wet cloth or wet wipes to put against your neck, wrists, face. You can also moisten the collar of your shirt.
- use a hand fan
- wear loose, flowy clothes
posted by sizeable beetle at 5:26 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]

There are wraps that you can freeze and put them around your neck. They do wonders for cooling your body temperature.

Or, similar concept, go high-tech with a wearable fan.
posted by hydra77 at 5:26 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]

I am heat intolerant and have, five years after menopause, started having hot flashes. I recently bought some microfiber cooling scarfs, just cheap ones from Amazon. You get them wet and they stay cool a very long time. They can head off the full-body sweat of a hot flash and keep me much more comfortable. My only complaint is that they do make the collar of my shirt damp, and that can be uncomfortable. But I look forward to using them this summer to enjoy the outside a bit more than usual.
posted by Well I never at 6:01 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]

Is it humid or dry in the heat? If it’s dry, any tiny amount of shade is worth standing in. Even thin thin line of a lamppost. Evaporative cooling is very useful in dry heat; when I bike in Phoenix in the summer I wear a thin loose long sleeved shirt that I soak completely before going out.

If it’s humid, then I don’t really have good techniques, but the shade and evaporative cooling are a little less useful.
posted by nat at 6:26 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]

You'll probably have to order from Amazon Japan, but Sony makes a personal cooling device that isn't snake oil. Sony doesn't sell them outside of HK/JP for whatever reason. Here is an article from The Verge talking about the first generation of it.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 7:23 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]

Seconding the dry heat/humidity conundrum.
In humid situations try the following --
You will sweat, but the humidity keeps your body from adequately cooling down.
Wet skin and a breeze are the solutions.
Long, loose light-colored layers that you can dampen are good.
Cotton absorbs moisture, but it can also work too well as socks and underwear. Hiking underwear exists to prevent chaffing and rashes.
Sunscreen and bug spray can feel like basting a roast. Long pants or a skirt and a thin shawl can give you coverage without the oil slick.
A wide-brim hat protects your neck and face. You still need sunscreen and sunglasses to prevent serious long-term damage.
This is not the time for a buzz cut. A shaved dome can sunburn easily. Wet hair or a dampened hat are good for cooling down.

Stay hydrated. Plain water works.

Bring something for the ground that you can sit on in case you feel nauseous or weak. Bonus points for a second object to put under your head if you really get dizzy.
This is an ongoing medical issue, so check with your team about a medical alert bracelet in case you pass out.
Hyperthermia is no joke. You want EMTs to know your medical history before taking action.
posted by TrishaU at 7:36 PM on May 24

No polyester clothing. Technical/athletic clothing is awful and retains so much heat. As much cotton as possible. A neck fan is key, just search Amazon and there’s a $30 one that is excellent.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 7:50 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

I am a very heat sensitive person (for no known reason). For the profuse sweating, I like Uniqlo’s Airism bra tops a lot. I wear them under shirts instead of my usual bras all summer if I know I’ll be spending much time outside. I’ll still sweat if I’m out in the heat for a while, but they really help me get through the summer weather, and they generally keep the sweat from showing through my shirts.
posted by wondermouse at 7:53 PM on May 24

Keep out of the sun as much as possible. Carry water. Drink some water with electrolytes before leaving home.

The wearable fan looks great. I ordered one last summer but it didn't get hot enough again to use it. I'm looking forward to using it this year.

I also have a spray water bottle with a fan, something like this. I took this to a warm-day event last year, and used it for myself and with others (with their permission). It's amazing how much it helps! It's like external evaporative cooling.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:39 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

Water with electrolytes all the time, more than you think you need. At least half a liter per each hour in the sun.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 3:09 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]

Science suggests that our temperature sense is generally set by the average of roughly the two previous weeks. You can try to tweak that to your advantage.

Personally, I do better in high heat when I spend less time in air conditioning, set the AC to a warmer temp, or wear warmer clothing when I'm inside in AC I can't control.

This, together with linen clothing and sun hats, kept me ok for five years in Austin TX, which is generally hot and humid, often so much so that it's unsafe to sit outside in the shade.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:08 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]

Wear a hat, carry and use an umbrella, put a wet microfiber towel or 2 and a couple bottles of water in a plastic bag in the freezer, use the wraps to stay cool. Carry an insulated lunch bag for the water and 2nd wrap, swap them out - the frozen water will help cool them. Carry a mister, spray your face, hands, exposed skin. Drink lots of water, some of it can have added electrolytes*. Wear breathable fabrics in white or light colors, this makes more difference than people think. Carry a fan, even a manual one.

Lots of companies sell cooling shirts, might work by efficiently wicking sweat so it can evaporate. Linen and cotton do that, but microfiber tech may be as or more effective.

I'd pack fresh clothes for work if possible. Sit near the AC vents on public transportation. If possible, use an app that shows specific actual transportation times so you can stay in AC or shade as long as possible.

* Electrolytes - when you sweat, you also lose salts - regular sodium chloride, also magnesium, potassium, etc., and if you get dehydrated, simple sugars help your body accept hydration more effectively. Most American get plenty of salt and sugars, but if you want you can make it up by adding a small glass of orange juice with water added and some salty food or a dash of salt. Talk to your doc about this since the extra sweating is a medical issue.

You have a temporary medical condition that may need accommodation. You may be eligible for accommodation at work. Think about what you need to stay healthy and able to work, see if this can be provided, enabled, or even just tolerated by your employer or school. A patio umbrella and stand, a cooler of frozen water bottles that can be refilled and refrozen, more frequent breaks. People downplay their legally necessary needs. Accommodation has to be reasonable and necessary and you don't have to say what the condition is; it's not HR's or your manager's business. You doctor can easily write a letter saying Eleanna is being treated for a condition that makes heat difficult to manage. They need accommodation to manage heat. Eleanna will work with their manager to make this happen. or similar. Docs do this all the time. (IANAL, I have a disability and ask for reasonable accommodation.)
posted by theora55 at 11:03 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]

I hate heat. I am very fond of simple hand fans. You can find elaborate or plain ones on Amazon quite cheaply and when I still lived in the South they were a lifesaver for outdoor events. Plus, there's just something about carrying and using a fan that makes one feel so elegant. I will also nth the long loose cotton or linen clothing.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:33 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]

My main advice is from what I found while I was pregnant during the hellish Los Angeles summer of 2021, and became very hormonally heat sensitive.

First, I prioritized sitting over standing in all situations. Taking my toddler to the park? Mom sits on the bench in the shade, on the curb in the shade, or on the ground in the shade. Toddler wants to swing on the backyard swing set? Mom brings over a lawn chair to so I could sit while pushing the swing. I’m invited to take a walk with a friend? No thank you, let’s grab a coffee. Waiting for the train? Lean against the wall of the station if no benches are available. Riding on the train? Be bold and ask for the seat, even if I’d never done that before, even if someone else is sitting in it - “excuse me, would you be comfortable giving me the seat? I think I need to sit down.”

I also scheduled things around the heat of the day. I need to wait in line at the bakery in full sun? Go early-early before the heat of the day sets in. Meeting up with a friend in my backyard? It better be nighttime and with ice water.

I also set expectations with people I was meeting. “Heads-up, it may seem ridiculous, but I am really heat sensitive right now, and I honestly just can’t be outside for very long - bear with me if I retreat to the AC early.”
posted by samthemander at 7:21 AM on May 26

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