One of the most significant health risks to be aware of this summer is the heat, which you may not think about unless you live in the warm deserts of the Southwest. However, heat can be a major risk in any part of the country—especially in areas where there is excessive humidity. Heat related illnesses can affect people of all ages, and these illnesses tend to progress quickly, so it is essential that you know what to look for. Below is a closer look at what you need to know to beat the heat this summer.
Recognize the signs of heat illness
Did you know that by the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated? Quenching your thirst is also a poor indicator of proper hydration. Therefore, you will want to know some of the other signs of dehydration that may also indicate heat stroke or exhaustion. Look for heavy sweating, confusion, dizziness, hangover-like headaches, muscle weakness or cramps, and nausea. If these signs are present, find a cool area, drink some water, and call 911 for assistance.
Know the hazards of heat
Even in 80 degree weather, heat can be problematic. When you are out in the sun for long periods, your body will use water much faster, so you need to drink extra and take breaks out of direct sunlight. Physical activity also raises your body temperature, so you should consider this when you go out for a jog during the summertime.
Identify high-risk situations
Every year brings a flurry of news stories of children and pets suffering fatal heat illness, and these incidents are usually attributed to being left in the car. In just 10 minutes, the temperature inside of the car can jump from the temperature outside at 80 degrees to 99 degrees. Children or pets left in these conditions can quickly overheat and lose consciousness. Adults should exercise caution for their own sake as well, as there have been many instances of adults falling asleep in the car and suffering fatal heat stroke. Other risky situations in the heat include periods of outdoor work or physical activity, hot days at high elevation areas, and consumption of alcohol in the summer heat.
To fight back against the heat, stick to indoor activities during the hottest parts of the day. You will also want to carry water wherever you go and wear lightweight clothing made from breathable fabrics like linen or cotton. What you eat can also affect how your body handles the heat—meats and other high protein foods cause your body to use more water in digestion.
For more tips on staying healthy all summer long, check in with the MeMD blog where you will find a wealth of health and wellness information.