Summer is a time for relaxation and fun. In some ways, summer can be great for your health, including your jaw. If you’re less stressed and enjoying vacations and get-togethers, you may find that TMJ pain seems to improve.
But be careful with certain summer activities that can actually make a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) worse. The wrong kind of fun in the sun could leave you with jaw pain, headaches, and inflammation in your TMJ. Here’s how to make the most of the summer days while keeping your TMJ – and all your joints – healthy.
Don’t Shock Your Joints
While a leap into an icy cold swimming hole sounds great when the temperature soars, it could mean pain and stiff joints later. When your body is already hot from the temperature outside, quickly shifting to a cold pool of water could aggravate your TMD. By all means, enjoy swimming, but stick to more mild temperature fluctuations such as warm pools and lakes. They’re not hard to find in Texas this time of year! Or, if you must take a dip in cooler water, walk in gradually and give your body time to adjust. If you notice jaw or joint pain or a headache, get out of the water and warm up.
Take Breaks in the Shade
Staying in the sun too long is a surefire way to get a headache from the brightness and squinting, which could spell trouble for those already experiencing headaches from TMD. In addition, the sun and heat will make you sweat, which can lead to dehydration. This is hard on your joints and entire body. Drink at least 8 glasses of pure water each day – but you’ll need much more than that if you’re exercising or sweating. You should get an extra 12 ounces of water for every 30 minutes of exercise. And when you can, seek out shade. Your joints – and your skin – will thank you.
Be Careful What You Sip
It’s tempting to enjoy a few alcoholic drinks or caffeinated sodas at fun get-togethers, but your TMJ won’t appreciate it. Alcohol and caffeine both dehydrate the body, including the joints. Add that to a long day in the sun and heat, and you’ll be left with sore joints and may even feel nauseous and fatigued. For every alcoholic or caffeinated drink you consume, you should follow with at least two glasses of fresh water.
Remember to follow the rules of a healthy TMJ throughout the summer: Get adequate rest each night (at least seven to eight hours), eat a TMD-friendly diet, and don’t ignore symptoms such as headaches and jaw pain. Avoid activities that you find make your symptoms worse, and contact MedCenter TMJ if TMD symptoms are holding you back.