Energy Savers
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    •  Showers & Stuff
    •  Things (Devices) that help
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Taking Showers, Washing Hair, & Stuff

It's the simple everyday things that can become the focus of your day, drain your energy for the day when orthostatic problems are most active. Taking a shower even once a week can become a major milestone.

There are ways to do things so that you can take better care of yourself. If you have other hints, let us know - Dr. Kay.


  • Taking a Shower
  • Washing Hair
  • Make-up, Shaving, etc
  • Skin Care
Taking a Shower:

Here are a few hints. Many of the tricks for standing would work but they are not generally safe in the shower especially if yours is small or your balance is a little wobbly. A rubber mat on the floor of the shower will help with safety.

Get a removable, hand-held shower head for your shower: This can help you direct the water. It would help if you get one with a valve that shuts the water off and turns it on when you want to so you don't have to bend over to reach the faucet/spigot.

Keep the temperature of the water cool:  Consider using the "Navy" type shower - they have to save water on aircraft carriers and submarines. They run the water to get wet, turn the water off, soap up, turn the water back on to rinse an area. You can do your body in segments - arms and chest first, rinse, then lower body.

Use a sponge on a stick: These can be very helpful to wash without having to bend over in the shower to reach your legs and feet. They are available at drugstores and online.

Sit down on a shower chair for all or part of your shower or take a bath!

Use some of the standing tricks: Wiggle, shift your weight from one foot to the other, lean against the wall.

If you get really short of breath or your feet turn really blue - sit down. Wiggle, shift your weight from one foot to the other, lean against the wall. Finish up quickly and sit down. Call for help if you feel faint, dizzy. If you can't yell, bang a bottle of shampoo or the handle of the shower head on the tub to make noise.

Keep the temperature of the room cool:  If you have an exhaust fan, turn that on to get some of the humidity out. Plan your shower with others in your house so that you are not trying to take your shower after others have heated and steamed up the bathroom.

Let someone in the house know you are taking a shower.  This is a safety precaution, in case you do actually faint. It also puts them on alert - to come running if they hear you yelling or they hear banging sounds.

Plan your showers:
    •  If your symptoms are better in the afternoon - do your shower later in the day.
    •  Plan for enough time to cool off afterward, just in case you need it.
    •  Try the water trick if you think you are a little low on fluids.
    •  If you have somewhere to go,what about taking your shower the evening before. You will have time to cool off.
    •  Think about what you need to do before you go out for that appointment or whatever - shower, dress, eat, do your daily retraining activity. Many get orthostatic symptoms that first hour after eating (blood goes to the stomach for digestion) You want to rest 1 hour after eating - so you don't want eat just before you stand in the shower (that would be 3 orthostatic stressors at once!). It might work better to eat after you have cooled off, dressed and done bathroom cares.
    •  If it will take some time to drive to your event, consider eating just before you leave. Then your body can digest the food while you sit in the car.

When you're more fatigued but need to clean up - take a sponge bath:   In the hospital and the "old days', this is what it was called when you filled the sink (or one of those hospital pans) with water and use a washcloth to wash up. If you have the energy, do as much of your body are you can. Otherwise, focus on the major areas: your face, under your arms, and your bottom. If you have been sweating a lot, wash off the areas where you sweat more.

Washing your hair:

Keeping your arms up in the air increases orthostatic stress - because it draws blood up to the arms. If you have deconditioning (weak muscles) on top of that, it will be a challenge to wash your hair.

Try using one hand/arm at a time instead of the usual two-hands to lather up or rinse your hair. Use one hand to lather one side of your head, then the other hand to do the other side. Just keep going back and forth, first the right, then the left, then the right, then the left until your hair is done.

RInsing your hair - a massage shower head really does a good job and helps rinse your hair.

If you need help, there are shower/hair washing things you can get from the pharmacy or online that will help hold the water while someone else helps wash your hair. Or someone can help wash your hair while you are in the shower chair. Another way is to kneel down by the side of the tub and have someone help you with a portable, hand-held shower head.

  Fixing your hair, putting on makeup, shaving:

Standing at the sink to do these things can trigger orthostatic symptoms, especially if you are doing them in a warm, humid bathroom after a shower.

Tricks to consider:

Find a way to do these things sitting down - have your supplies near a bedside table and sit in a chair or at the bedside to do them.

Sit down every so often.

Lean against the sink.

Try some of the tricks to avoid getting dizzy - cross your legs, tighten your abdominal muscles for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds and repeat. Raise up on your toes for 30 seconds, drop to your flat feet for 30 seconds, keep doing a few of those.

If you are doing a skin cleaning routine - use a brush or sponge on a handle to get to those really hard to reach places on your back. Get someone to help with the creams.

Taking care of your skin:

Many who develop OI conditions are in their teens or young adult years so skin problems like acne can be an issue. Plus, for some, acne gets worse with OI (POTS/CFS).

If you are doing a skin cleaning routine - use a brush or sponge on a handle to get to those really hard to reach places on your back. Get someone to help with the creams.

If you have joint hypermobility, we know you can probably reach all the places by stretching more. But DON'T. Save your shoulder joints! Use a brush and sponge on a stick and get help to put on the cream!

There are devices & equipment that can make it easier to take care of yourself & your home

  1. Personal experience of author as physician and caregiver since 2004 as well as recommendations from physical and occupational therapists seen in consultation.

Author: Kay E. Jewell, MD
Page Last Updated: July 6, 2012