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We’ve experienced several heat waves on the East Coast this summer. It's important that we stay cool in order to avoid heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke occur when your body starts to lose the ability to regulate its core temperature. Excessive exposure to heat can cause many symptoms, including:
- Excessive sweating
- Nausea and Vomiting
With heat stroke, your core temperature can rise above 104 degrees.
In severe cases that progress to heat stroke patients can develop confusion, irrational thoughts, or seizures, which occur because the various body systems are shutting down. It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience these symptoms. To maintain a safe body temperature, your body has to get rid of excess heat. Read on for six tips to help you stay cool this summer.
How to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke
1. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is key to maintaining a healthy body temperature, particularly during exercise. Drink plenty of fluids the day before and the day of physical activity. During exercise, keep a drink handy that contains salt, electrolytes, and small amounts of sugar, such as Gatorade or Powerade to replenish those substances you have lost while sweating.
You tell us: What are your go-to drinks to stay hydrated in the summer? Tag us on Twitter @MedStarHealth #LiveWellHealthy.
2. Get used to the heat
If you spend most of your time in the air conditioning and suddenly try to run five miles outdoors, your body might not be ready for that kind of heat exposure. It’s safer to gradually expose yourself to activity outside during the summer.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
People who are obese are at much greater risk for heat-related illnesses. Carrying excess weight can affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature and cause you to retain more heat. Talk to your doctor if you need help managing your weight.
4. Wear appropriate clothing
Limit sun exposure when you’re outside by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and light, loose-fitting clothing. Also consider bringing an umbrella, awning, or overhang to protect yourself from the sun.
5. Be extra careful if you’re sick
Infections such as the flu can cause your body temperature to spike. If you’ve recently overcome an illness, be cautious about the amount of time you spend outside and spend exercising for a couple of weeks.
6. Use the buddy system
If you’re older than 70, you’re more susceptible to heat stroke due to underlying medical conditions that can affect their body temperature. If you live alone or can’t get around well, the risk is increased, especially if your air conditioner breaks. Use the buddy system—find a friend or relative who can help when the temperature rises.
7. Mind the temperature and time
Keep in mind the time of day you’ll be outside, as early mornings and late evenings are the coolest times of the day. And always check the heat index, or the combination of the temperature and humidity levels, on a mobile app or online. When you see heat indexes in the high 90s or above, be especially careful about the amount of time you spend outside.
Spending time in the sun is arguably the best part of summer. Make sure to use these tips to stay safe while doing so.