Heat stroke is a very real threat that not enough of us take seriously. It can affect anyone exposed to extreme heat from the sun.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are just some of the illnesses that are brought about by exposure to severe heat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heat exhaustion has the following symptoms: fast but weak pulse, cold and clammy skin, heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, and vomiting. Heat stroke, on the other hand, comes with hot, red, dry or damp skin as well as a fast and strong pulse, confusion, dizziness, and nausea. Heat stroke can be deadly if not addressed and dealt with on time.
Even though exposure to high temperatures is a health risk to everyone, the older we are, the more vulnerable we become to the harmful effects of extreme heat.
Dr. Michael Fitch is a Professor of Emergency Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. In a recent interview with The Dispatch, he explained that:
“Our bodies lose some natural ability to regulate temperature as we age, making it more difficult for people to respond to hot weather in the same ways that younger people may… A person with dementia or another chronic medical condition may not even be aware of being thirsty or feeling overheated.”
Here are just some of the ways Dr. Fitch and the CDC suggest to stay safe during the extreme heat of summer:
- If possible, stay indoors, inside a well-ventilated and preferably air-conditioned space. Fans can become unreliable and simply move hot air around once temperatures get too high, so air conditioning is the wiser choice, especially in hot climates.
- Stay Hydrated! Water is an essential part of staying hydrated. There are also sports beverages and other electrolyte drinks that help to keep everything in balance. Avoid consumption of certain beverages, such as coffee and alcohol, which are less hydrating and may make the situation worse.
- Limit the use of heat generating devices and appliances such as stoves, ovens, hairdryers, and even computers. Venting the heat out of your space in a good idea, but that alone may not be enough on a hot day.
- Wear comfortable and lightweight clothing.
- Be smart with your physical activities. If you have to go out and exercise, be sure that you do so in the shade or during the cooler hours. Pace yourself and get plenty of rest before and after.
- Last but not least, don’t forget safety, but also don’t forget to enjoy the summer season!
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