Approximately 90% of Australians with MS are affected by the heat, which can lead to heat-induced or related fatigue. Heat-related fatigue can result in loss of employment, and significant increase in the cost of living.
Recently, Associate Professor Ollie Jay and his team have shown that if certain parts of the body are cooled, the sensation of fatigue can be reduced, allowing physical activity in the heat to be performed for longer periods of time. In this project, he aims to build on these findings and develop simple and novel interventions for preventing heat-related fatigue in people with MS.
Associate Professor Jay will assess if swirling cold fluids in the mouth is enough, or if they need to be swallowed. If particular skin sites can be targeted with surface cooling materials to reduce heat-related fatigue, and if methanol can be rinsed in the mouth or applied to the skin to reduce heat-related fatigue.
The results from these experiments will lead to the development of novel cooling interventions that are simple and inexpensive. Ultimately, the findings of this study will not only help people with MS maintain their functional capacity for longer during exposure to the heat, but also help us better understand the underlying mechanisms associated with heat sensitivity in MS.
Associate Professor Jay and his team have completed data collection for the first of three studies planned in total. Associate Professor Jay recorded information from 21 participants who completed three experimental trials for this study.
Preliminary findings have shown that cold water swilling does not measurably improve health-related fatigue or increase exercise capacity during exercise in heat in people with MS with heat sensitivity. This observation has led to the investigators changing the next part of their experiment which was planned with the assumption that it would have a larger effect on improving heat-related fatigue, to a different intervention than physical cooling by cold water swilling.
As future steps, Associate Professor Jay has plans to more rigorously test a recently popularised finding on the use of aspirin to alleviate heat related fatigue in MS. Associate Professor Jay aims to use a more rigorous protocol than in the currently published literature to perform a double blinded randomised control trial to investigate whether the use of aspirin is an effective strategy to combat heat related fatigue in MS.
Despite the change in direction based on early findings, Associate Professor Jay’s work will result in clarity on ways people with MS can combat heat-related fatigue.
Updated: 11 June 2020
Updated: 05 January, 2018