Many IBS sufferers find that hot, humid weather increases both the frequency and severity of their symptoms. One of the keys to preventing warm weather triggering IBS flare-ups is to stay as cool as possible, so here is how to stay cool in summer.
Tips on How to Stay Cool in Summer
When you are at home:
- Keep rooms cool by keeping your windows and curtains closed. Light-coloured curtains are best, because dark ones can make rooms hotter, as can metal blinds. You can ventilate rooms by opening windows later in the day, when it gets cooler.
- Identify your home’s coolest room and go there whenever possible.
- Have cool showers/baths and splash yourself frequently with cool water. Keeping a spray bottle with water in the fridge ensures you always have a refreshing spray handy, especially when you have been outdoors.
- Air conditioning reduces moisture in the air and can encourage dehydration, so consider using fans to circulate air and keep you cool instead. Small battery-operated fans are handy both at home and when going out.
- Store some cosmetic toners or lotions in the fridge to use on tired, hot feet.
- Check out hot weather alerts & tips on keeping cool on social media, TV and the radio. Plan ahead and make sure you have enough of everything you need – water, food, any medications you require and, of course, silicolgel, which may help relieve symptoms in the event of your IBS flaring up.
When you go out:
- Avoid going out between 11 AM and 3 PM, as this is the hottest time of the day when the sun and UV radiation are at their fiercest . If, for instance, you like to exercise outdoors, do so early in the morning or late in the evening. If this is not possible, reduce your exertion level, walk instead of running and/or reduce the duration of your workout.
- Wear cool, loose clothing preferably made of cotton, as this will keep you cooler than synthetics; a hat, sunglasses and, of course, plenty of sunscreen.
Preventing Warm Weather Triggering IBS Flare-Ups
Keeping hydrated is crucial for everyone in hot weather but it is even more important if you have IBS, so:
- Drink plenty of water, low FODMAP fruit juices, smoothies and/or caffeine-free herbal teas.
- Drink fluids that can help replace the electrolytes your body loses through sweating, breathing & urinating. Such drinks include coconut water with a little salt; caffeine-free sports drinks or the solution shown in Image.
- Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and soft drinks containing caffeine, as the diuretic effect of these drinks can promote dehydration.
- Adjust your diet to include lighter meals like salads, light snacks/soups, etc. As hot, humid weather can also affect IBS by reducing serotonin levels in your gut, make sure to include serotonin-boosting foods in your summer diet. Some serotonin boosting foods below –
Finally, use lots of common sense – stay indoors as much as you can; avoid activities on hot surfaces (asphalt, etc.) or in direct sunlight and, perhaps most importantly, get the rest you need when you do have an IBS flare-up.
Trying to “carry on as normal” when you are feeling ill will only make matters worse, so take time out, adjust your diet further if necessary and make sure to take in as many fluids as you can to stay hydrated.