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Avoid heat stroke and dehydration this summer

Sunburn may be the first thing that comes to mind when people think of spending too much time soaking up summer sun. While sunburn is a significant health problem that can increase a person’s risk for skin cancer, it poses a less immediate threat than heat stroke and dehydration, well-known yet often misunderstood conditions.
What is heat stroke?
Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency and the most severe form of heat illness that results from long, extreme exposure to the sun. During this exposure, a person’s built-in cooling system may fail to produce enough sweat to lower his or her body temperature, putting his or her life at risk as a result. Heat stroke develops rapidly and requires immediate medical treatment. If not treated immediately, it can prove fatal.
Are some people more
at risk for heat stroke
than others?
The elderly, infants, people whose occupations require them to work outdoors, and the mentally ill are among those with an especially high risk of heat stroke. Obesity, poor circulation, alcohol, and certain types of medication also increase a person’s risk.
What are the symptoms
of heat stroke?
One person may experience heat stroke differently than another. In addition, because it develops so rapidly, heat stroke can be hard to identify before a person is in serious danger. Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that some of the more common heat stroke symptoms include headache; dizziness; disorientation, agitation, or confusion; sluggishness or fatigue; seizure; hot, dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty; high body temperature; loss of consciousness; rapid heartbeat; and hallucinations.
Can heat stroke
be prevented?
According to research, vitamin C helps support your body to better deal with high temperatures and can prevent serious problems caused by excessive heat, such as heat stroke and heat rash. Ascorbic acid has been shown to help support sweat glands and prevent burn-out in warmer temperatures. For more information on supplements to help protect you from the heat, contact Guy’s Pharmacy of Crystal Springs at 601.647.0030.
The simplest way to prevent heat stroke is to avoid spending time outdoors in the sun on hot days. If you must go outdoors, do so when temperatures are mild, and the sun is low, such as in the early morning or evening.
In addition to being wise about when you spend time in the sun, you can do the following to prevent heat stroke:
Wear lightweight, tightly-woven, and loose-fitting clothing in light colors.
Always wear a hat and sunglasses when going outdoors, and use an umbrella on especially hot days.
Take frequent drinks during outdoor activities, and mist yourself with a spray bottle to reduce the likelihood of becoming overheated.
Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, and incorporate sports drinks that can help your body maintain its electrolyte balance when spending a lot of time outdoors. In addition, avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee, soda, and tea, as well as alcohol. Maintaining the essential amount of fluids your body needs to stay adequately hydrated is one of the easiest actions you can take to avoid dehydration this summer.
What is dehydration?
Understanding dehydration and how to prevent it is essential for anyone who plans to spend time outside during the summer. The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that a dehydrated body does not have enough fluid and electrolytes to work properly. On an average day, the human body needs about three quarts of water. But the USNLM notes that anyone planning to spend time outside in the hot sun needs significantly more water than that to avoid dehydration.
Are some people more
at risk for dehydration than others?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, children, and adults over the age of 60 are particularly susceptible to dehydration.
What are the signs
of dehydration?
Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that people experience dehydration differently. However, there are some common symptoms that indicate someone is dehydrated. These symptoms include thirst, less frequent urination, dry skin, fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, dry mouth and mucous membranes, and increased heart rate and breathing.
Children who are dehydrated may exhibit additional symptoms, including dry mouth and tongue; no tears and crying; no wet diapers for several hours; sunken abdomen, eyes, or cheeks; listlessness; irritability; and skin that does not flatten when pinched and released.
How to prevent
Drinking plenty of fluids when working or playing in the sun is one way to prevent dehydration. Being sure to take in more fluid than you are losing is another way to prevent dehydration. Everyone, especially people who sweat a lot, should keep a close eye on fluid loss when spending time outdoors in the summer. Sports drinks that help people maintain their electrolyte balance, such as Gatorade, can help prevent dehydration as well. Pedialyte is often recommended for sick infants or children who have experienced vomiting, as it can help restore electrolyte balance that was adversely affected when kids became sick. The solution can be equally effective at restoring electrolyte balance that was thrown off during heat exposure.
Limiting time spent outdoors on hot days is another way to help prevent dehydration.
Heat stroke and dehydration are both serious threats to your health on hot and humid Mississippi summer days. Because heat stroke can escalate rapidly, everyone must be especially cautious and mindful of their bodies when spending time outdoors in the days ahead. If you or someone you know is concerned about heat related illnesses, call Family Medical Clinic of Crystal Springs for assistance at 601.892.3063. By limiting time spent outdoors and keeping a close eye on fluid consumption, you are on your way to enjoying a healthy and hydrated summer.