Beat the Heat: How to Prevent Heat-Related Illnesses This Summer
Summer is a time for fun in the sun, but it is important to be aware of the risks that come with extreme heat. With temperatures soaring there are several heat-related illnesses that can occur if proper precautions are not taken. The conditions potentially caused by the heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are heat stroke, heat exhaustion, rhabdomyolysis, heat syncope, heat cramps and heat rash.
Firstly, it is important to know general signs of heat-related illnesses so that you can take action if you or someone else is experiencing them. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headache, dizziness, nausea, weakness and heavy sweating. If these symptoms are not addressed, they can progress to heat stroke, which is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated properly in a timely manner. Symptoms of heat stroke include a high body temperature (above 40 °C or 104 °F), confusion, agitation, seizures, and loss of consciousness. If you or someone else is experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately.
Call the Bumrungrad hotline 1378 to ask for assistance.
Other heat related illnesses include rhabdomyolysis, which causes rapid breakdown, rupture, and demise of muscle. After that electrolytes and large proteins are released into the bloodstream from the dying muscle. This can cause irregular heart rhythms, seizures, and damage to the kidneys. Muscle cramps and pain as well as abnormally dark urine are usually observed.
Heat syncope is characterized by dizziness or fainting, which can occur when the body becomes overheated and blood flow to the brain is reduced. This is often seen in people who are standing for too long or rising up from a sitting or lying position.
Heat cramps are painful muscle cramps that can occur when the body loses too much salt and water through sweating. Heat cramps often occur during or after strenuous physical activity in hot weather, and they can be a warning sign of heat exhaustion.
Heat rash is another common heat-related illness. It occurs when sweat ducts become blocked, leading to small red bumps or blisters on the skin. Heat rash is often seen in areas where clothing rubs against the skin, such as on the neck, chest, or groin, and the area with skin to skin contact like the elbow creases or under the breasts.
However, by taking a few simple precautions, you can minimize the risk of heat-related injuries and stay safe and healthy during the hot summer months.
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to prevent heat-related injuries. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially when you are active or spending time outside. Avoid drinks that are high in caffeine or alcohol, as these can actually dehydrate you.
Wearing loose, lightweight, and light-colored clothing can help keep you cool in the heat. Avoid dark colors, as these absorb more heat from the sun. Additionally, wear a wide-brimmed hat or use an umbrella to shield yourself from the sun's rays.
If you are working or playing outside, take frequent breaks to cool down and rest. Spend some time in the shade, and if possible, go inside to an air-conditioned space. This will give your body a chance to cool down and rest, reducing the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Sunburn can be painful and dangerous, and it increases your risk of skin cancer. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and reapply it every two hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating.
In conclusion, heat-related illnesses can be serious, but by taking a few simple precautions, you can minimize your risk and stay safe and healthy during the hot summer months. Stay hydrated, dress appropriately, take breaks, use sunscreen, and know the signs of heat-related injuries. By doing so, you can enjoy all that summer has to offer without putting your health at risk.
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