Heat Illness Awareness
As we prepare to see temperatures reaching into the 90s this weekend, now is a good reminder to watch your health in the summer heat.
As people try to get relief from the summer sun-heat related illness can sneak up fast. As our bodies are acclimating to the warmer temperatures- we may be more vulnerable to heat related illnesses. The first reminder is to protect yourself.
Josephine Davis, MD, with Monument Health in Sturgis, says “Wear light, loose fitting clothing. You want to make sure you are protecting yourself from the sun … wear a wide-brimmed hat or a hat that covers your neck and back, [wear] sunglasses. Make sure that you are putting on sunscreen and putting on every few hours too.”
Heat exhaustion can quickly turn to heat stroke when your body temperature gets overheated.
At first signs of heat illness — like dizziness, nausea, headaches, or fatigue — move to a cooler place, rest a few minutes, then slowly drink a cool beverage. You can also put ice or cool packs on your body to cool your temperature down.
Seek medical attention immediately if conditions do not improve or you become confused or agitated.
Dr. Davis says even the young and healthy can get a heat related illness. But the most prone are the extreme of ages, children and the elderly and those with chronic illnesses or who are on certain medications like anti depressants or blood pressure medications are more vulnerable.
Ways to avoid an illness is to limit your time outside on an extremely hot day. Try to do outdoor activities either early morning or evening. Drink plenty of water, even before heading outside and always having it on hand. Not any beverage will keep you hydrated.
Davis says, “You want to avoid really sugary beverage and caffeinated drink, coffee or tea- that sort of stuff can be really harmful or anything that is like an energy drink too-those would be kind of working against your body for ways of dealing with the heat too.”
You can even get over heated indoors if you don’t have a proper way to cool your home down.
“You know even just in the home indoors, if can get really hot or in your car, it can happen in the shade too just from lack of preparedness. From being outside, your not well hydrated or you just haven’t been in the hot temperatures.”
Dogs can also experience heat related illnesses, symptoms may include excessive panting, drooling, or even vomiting, make sure they have access to cool drink gin water, a shady spot in the yard or even better yet, inside in the air conditioning.
The best defense against heat-related illness is prevention.
Davis says, “You know sometimes you just get yourself in a situation where you are out hiking in the hills and it’s taking longer than you expect or there is not enough shade as you would think and you get kind of stuck and things can progress quickly, so just try to be prepared.”
To beat the heat- obviously the best situation would be staying in an air-conditioned area, either at home or in a public place such as a mall. If air conditioning is not available, pull the shades over the windows or using fans to cool rooms. Limit the use of stoves and ovens to keep home temperatures lower.