People with mental illness and chronic diseases, the elderly and the very young, have even more to worry about this summer than the average person. For it is these groups of people who typically are more at risk for some sort of heat induced illness. According to the Center for Disease Control, extreme heat is classified as several weeks where the temperatures are around 10 degrees or more above the average highs for a particular region. But even though areas in the United States don’t always reach a point of extreme heat, the sun’s rays and the humidity of the Summer are still to be careful around. For more people died in the US from 1979 to 1999 of heat induced illnesses than from other natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, earthquakes and floods combined.
Heat induced illness can be prevented if people take the correct precautions. The first step to prevention is understanding the problem. Basically, these illnesses occur when one’s body is unable to properly cool itself down. While sweat can be annoying in more ways than one, it is crucial to the cooling of our bodies. The body sweats naturally to cool itself normally but in certain circumstances it doesn’t do so effectively. For instance, in high humidity sweat doesn’t evaporate as quickly as usual and so the body does not release heat as fast. Other times this might occur are in instances of obesity, fever, old age, heart disease, dehydration , mental illness, circulation problems, sunburn, alcohol intake and prescription drug use. People need to be aware that these are the risk factors so that if they have symptoms that fit into any of the categories, they can take extra precautions.
Following are ways to help prevent heat related illness:
One of the most obvious, but important ways to keep your body cool this summer and avoid heat induced illness is by staying in air conditioned places whenever possible. Spend the extra cash required to buy a wall unit A/C if you have to , but its very easy way to reduce the threat of heat induced illness.
Increase Fluid Intake
Drink fluids as often as possible and not just when you become thirsty. If you are at particular risk to heat induced illness or you are outside in the heat working or playing, be sure to drink two to four glasses (16-32 oz) of sugar free, cool fluids every h our. The fluids should be cool, not too warm or too cold. You can also drink sports beverages like PowerAde or Gatorade, which replace your salt and minerals that are lost when you sweat.
Protect Yourself From Sunburn
A sunburn causes a loss of bodily fluids and reduces the body’s ability to cool down.
If you plan to be outdoors, protect yourself with a wide brimmed hat and sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, which you should apply about 30 minutes before going outside. Sunglasses are also important in preventing heat induced illnesses.
Exercise With Caution
If you plan on being in a hot environment or heating up your body somehow, don’t delve into full energetic force. Keep the pace gradual and then build up to heavier exertion. Watch out for lightheadedness, weakness, headaches, and shortness of breath. If any of these symptoms occur, stop all activity and get to a cool place immediately.
And above all, use common sense to prevent heat induced illnesses!