Top Tips to Avoid Heat Illnesses this Summer
As the mercury in your outdoor thermometers rises, it is important to maintain a healthy body temperature. People with chronic disease and those taking medications, such as immunosuppressive drugs, need to be especially careful. Here are our top tips to avoid heat illnesses this summer.
- If you exercise, make sure to start slow. The higher your fitness level the less likely you will be to experience a heat illness. Stop and rest if you need to.
- Stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages. If you become thirsty, you are already dehydrated and are at increased risk of developing a heat illness.
- Select loose fitting, light color clothing.
- Eat well-rounded meals and increase your fluid intake at meals.
- Sleep well.
- Rest between activities in the shade or out of the heat.
- Recognize the signs and symptoms of the three general types of heat illnesses: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
The signs and symptoms of heat cramps include discomfort in the muscles that often leads to a decrease in performance. These are caused by either too little or too much fluid intake, which leads to a decrease in the body's sodium level.
Heat exhaustion is marked by dehydration, dizziness, gastrointestinal distress, persistent muscle cramps, cool clammy skin, chills, weakness, a change in mental status and hyperventilation.
Heat stroke is the most serious of the three and is considered a medical emergency. Signs and symptoms are similar to exhaustion but also include marked changes in mental status (delirium, hysteria or a loss of consciousness), a rapid heart rate, low blood pressure and a body temperature elevated above 104° F.