Summer means fun in the sun for many, but the steamy weather can also be cause for health problems. Heat-related illnesses (heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps) occur when a person’s body is unable to sufficiently cool itself.
“During intense or prolonged exposure to heat, blood rushes to the skin’s surface, sweating increases, and core body temperature rises, all of which produce substantial stress on our cardiovascular and neurologic systems.” explains Jeff Sternlicht, MD, Chairman of Emergency Department Services for GBMC. He offers the following advice to prevent serious harm:
• Avoid strenuous activities during the hottest part of the day (between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.). If activity can’t be avoided, take frequent breaks to go indoors or rest in the shade.
• Drink plenty of water before, during, and after activity. Fluids like sports drinks, juices, or water help replace lost fluids.
• Do not drink caffeine or alcohol. They increase the risk of dehydration.
• Limit the amount of time spent in the sun.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing so skin can cool itself through evaporation.
“Heat-related illnesses can affect anyone,” says Dr. Sternlicht. “So it’s important for people to keep these precautions in mind.”
If you suspect that someone is suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, call 911.