The hot summer weather can exacerbate the fatigue experienced by many men undergoing prostate cancer treatment. So our Specialist Nurse, Meg Burgess, explains what things you can do to help manage the discomfort – including the merits of a Mediterranean-style siesta.
Most of us look forward to the summer months of longer days and warmer weather. But when you're suffering with fatigue due to prostate cancer treatment, hotter weather can be difficult to cope with.
Planning your day and pacing yourself is important when energy levels are low, especially in hot weather. Think about what you need to do and prioritise.
In the UK, a heat wave doesn’t usually last long, so perhaps chores could wait for another day. It might be helpful to write a list of what you need to do and, if possible, avoid activity in the hottest part of the day: 11am–3pm. That might mean changing your usual routine – think siesta! There is a good reason why many living in Mediterranean climates take a nap during the peak of the day.
If it is really hot, you might also want to plan a trip to an air-conditioned building, like the cinema, library or shopping centre. Give yourself permission to do things a bit differently.
Stay cool in the house by opening windows but keeping blinds and curtains closed. Using an electric fan can help to keep the air circulating. When you’re feeling hot and uncomfortable, you might find it helpful to have a hand-held electric fan or a spray bottle filled with cold water for a refreshing ‘spritz’. A wet flannel or handkerchief on the head or shoulders can also be cooling.
Keep the water temperature of your shower or bath cooler than usual, and wear loose clothes (and bed-clothes) made of natural materials rather than less breathable, man-made fibres.
It’s important to keep yourself hydrated. When it’s hot, you need to drink more than usual. Drink plenty of cold fluids before you feel thirsty, and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Keep a large bottle or jug of iced water close at hand and take regular sips throughout the day.
Be prepared. It’s a good idea to have supplies ready if a heatwave is forecast. If fatigue makes it difficult to get about, it will be helpful to have a good supply of food and medication. Ask for help if necessary: friends, family and neighbours are usually very happy to help with shopping or chores.
Sometimes, hot weather can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you're feeling unwell and think you may have heat stroke, speak to your doctor. If you can't speak to your GP and don’t know what to do next, call 111. The NHS website also provides further information about preventing heat stroke, including signs and symptoms.
Read more about fatigue and prostate cancer and our dedicated support programme that can help.