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How I Go About My Day to Stay Cool and Avoid Flares — Very Hot Edition

Living Well

June 29, 2024

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Design by Andrew Nguyen; Photography courtesy of Stefanie Remson

Design by Andrew Nguyen; Photography courtesy of Stefanie Remson

by Stefanie Remson


Medically Reviewed by:

Nancy Carteron, M.D., FACR


by Stefanie Remson


Medically Reviewed by:

Nancy Carteron, M.D., FACR


From exercising during the morning to avoiding cooking warm meals in the early evening, here’s how I go about each stage of my day to prevent the effects of warm weather on my rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Summer is my favorite time of year. In general, my RA is better controlled in warmer summer months, and I typically have very few flares.

However, if I overdo it or get too hot, RA-related symptoms can occur, and a flare is sure to ensue.

I live in Las Vegas, Nevada, which has a very hot desert climate. The high summer temperatures outdoors are typically over 100ºF (38ºC) for June, July, and August. Although I do love the heat, there are definitely lifestyle changes involved when it comes to managing my RA in this unique climate.

Here’s how I stay cool and manage my RA in the hot summer months in the Las Vegas desert.

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Upon waking


I drink about a gallon of water daily during the hot summer months, excluding coffee, sodas, and sports drinks. I consider these latter drinks a bonus and I don’t include them in my minimum intake.

How do I drink a gallon of water every day? It’s likely different from what you’re thinking.

Within an hour of waking, before I even start my day, I drink about 1 to 2 liters of water. If I start my day off well hydrated, then I’m not playing catch up throughout the day. I realize this doesn’t work for everyone, but I have found that it’s great for me and my schedule.

I only sip water throughout the day to avoid taking frequent bathroom breaks while running errands, at my kids sporting events, or at work. But it’s enough to keep me hydrated! And as the day goes on, I start drinking more regularly around 2:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon once most of my daily tasks are done.


I usually exercise early in the mornings before the temperature has started to rise for the day. I often exercise indoors and wear lightweight and moisture-wicking clothing.

If it’s cooler, I’ll go for an early morning walk outside.

If I’m swimming outdoors for exercise, I typically don’t go between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., which is the hottest time of the day.

I always make sure to hydrate before, during, and after exercise, too.

image of a woman and her kids in a swimming pool
Photography courtesy of Stefanie Remson
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Getting ready for the day


In the hot summer months, I opt for clothes that help keep me cool and aren’t too tight on the ankles or wrists to accommodate for possible swelling. I try to buy clothes made of thin, moisture-wicking fabric that allows a lot of airflow.

For work, I usually wear dresses, rompers, or jumpsuits. These not only allow a lot of airflow, but I also don’t have to think too much about making sure the outfit matches either. It’s an all-in-one! I stay cool and still look professional.

Often, these types of clothing are fairly easy to slip on and off. I find buttons and zippers hard for my hands, so if I find a dress, romper, or jumpsuit that I really like with buttons or zippers, I usually have them altered so they can be worn without requiring them.

For more casual clothing on the weekends, I’m a big fan of elastic waist shorts and stretchy rompers.

Hats and head coverings

Anytime I’m outdoors, I cover my head with a hat, visor, or handheld umbrella for the added cooling effect of shade.

I’m a curly-haired woman who loves fashion, and I’m not always down for “hat hair,” so I keep a variety of different head coverings handy.

a woman smiling wearing a wide brimmed pink hat
Photography courtesy of Stefanie Remson

Sun protection

Although not directly related to my RA, protecting my skin is very important, so I always wear sunscreen. Though, there are some medications that can make you more sensitive to sun exposure.

I make sure to apply sunscreen daily to my face, hands, and other exposed skin. I apply it before going outdoors, and I reapply after 2 hours, and sooner if I’m in water or sweating a lot.

The ballerina bun

During the hot summer months, my hair is usually up, off of my neck, in what my youngest son calls my “ballerina bun.”

I find having my hair up helps keep me cooler overall.

Getting around during the day

Cool the car

I start my car about 5 minutes before I have to leave for work in the morning to make sure it’s cooled off when I get in. I have seen some really neat ways that others cool off their cars, too.

  • My spouse’s sedan has a remote start (where you can start it with a button on the key), and he often starts it this way. Sometimes, he will use the remote start while waiting in a checkout line at the grocery store, so it’s cool by the time we get there, too!
  • Many newer cars have cooled seats, which I will definitely opt for when I purchase my next vehicle.
  • Seat covers can provide some relief from the scalding touch of leather, but they don’t help much when it comes to cooling.
  • Cooling pads for your seats can be really helpful when coming back to a hot parked car.

Avoid any exercise to commute

Due to the heat, I avoid walking, riding a bike, or skating anywhere outdoors in the summer for the purpose of commuting.

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During the day

Circulate the air

I have multiple fans around my house, in my office, and portable ones that are great for on the go.

Keep the room cool

Central cooling systems are very common in homes where I live, and I keep mine set to a temperature I’m most comfortable.

For people who don’t have central cooling systems, try using a temporary device that goes in the window or even a stand-alone cooling system to keep the area around you at a comfortable temperature.

When these cooling systems are simply not an option, don’t forget how effective ice packs or frozen vegetables are, too.

Wrapping up the day

Avoid cooking warm meals

Being close to a stovetop can make me warmer, and using the oven can make my entire house warmer. I love my outdoor grill, but being outside in the heat can be tricky, too. I have plenty of no-cooking-required meals that I make for my family regularly during the hot summer months. These include:

  • leafy green salads
  • wraps and sandwiches
  • cold pasta salads
  • sushi
  • anti-pasta or a cheese and deli meat platter (aka, adult Lunchables)

When it’s too hot for me to prepare food at all, we get takeout.

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Getting ready for bed

Room temperature

During the hot summer months, I lower my thermostat’s temperature by about 1 to 2ºF. This means the house is cooler during the day and before I go to sleep.

I use thin sheets and typically don’t sleep with a blanket. I usually sleep in a thin T-shirt and loose-fitting elastic shorts to be sure I stay cool throughout the night.

I try to use ice packs for pain in lieu of my heating pad to help with the summer heat, too.

Dry eyes

I have dry eyes, which may or may not be related to RA, depending on who you ask (but I think it is!)

I can’t sleep with a fan on as it makes my dry eyes much worse. When a fan is necessary, I use overnight moisturizing eye drops to help with this during the hot summer months, and I find this to be very helpful.

The takeaway

I love the heat of the summer months, but I definitely have made lifestyle changes to avoid overheating and causing a flare of my RA.

Medically reviewed on June 29, 2024

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About the author

Stefanie Remson

Ms. Stefanie Remson MSN, APRN, FNP-BC is the CEO and founder of She is a family nurse practitioner and is a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient herself. She has spent her entire life serving the community as a healthcare professional and has refused to let RA slow her down. She has worked with The Arthritis Foundation, The Lupus Foundation of America, Healthline, Grace and Able, Arthritis Life, Musculo, Aila, and HopeX. You can learn more at her website and on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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