| Tuesday, July 26, 2005
| IT'S SUMMER TIME AND THE LIVING IS EASY....BUT NOT VERY EASY
|Last Sunday, when I woke up at around noon time, because I work nights, I went out at the back yard to check if the car of my boys are at the garage, I was heat by an enormous heat, from the ground and the atmosphere. I did not check the weather report the night I went to work and I did not feel the heat outside, because the entire house is fully air conditioned. The temperature reading was 104 degrees Fahrenheit outside. It was so damn hot and even if there is wind blowing, the temperature is still humid. I was reading an article about heat on this summer.
HOW TO BEAT THE HEAT.
OVERHEATING CAN BE MORE DANGEROUS THAN OVEREATING!
When summer heat waves last days or weeks, they may kill thousands of people, most of whom are over 50 and/or especially vulnerable to hyperthermia -- a "hot" body. Hot weather has caused significantly more deaths in the U.S. over the last 10 years than cold, floods, tornados or any other natural phenomenon.
Your Body's Natural Thermostat.
Most healthy adults can cope with the heat. Their bodies are able to maintain a normal temperature -- up to a point. They do so mainly by sweating. One of your brain's many functions is to act as a thermostat. When the weather is too hot, the brain sends signals that dilate the blood vessels in the skin, delivering much more blood to the surface of the body and providing the fluid to make you sweat. As the perspiration dries, it cools the surface of the body and lowers body temperature.
However, when it's not hot but also very humid, sweat doesn't evaporate as quickly, and that slows down the cooling process. This is why heat is better tolerated when the humidity is low. Still, failing to deal promptly with prolonged exposure to elevated temperatures can lead to problems even in dry climates, such as in the Southwest.
Who Is At Risk?
Those most likely to become sick from hyperthermia are:
* Infants and children up to four years of age.
* Men and women over 65 who has a problem with their hearts, kidneys or lungs.
* Individuals who are overweight.
* Anyone who is taking diuretic, sedatives, tanquilizers,antihistamines or other medications that interfere with their ability to perspire.
* Anyone who overworks or exercises too much in the heat.
* people who are dehydrated or have poor circulation, so that extra blood can't reach the surface of the body quickly enough.
If you fall into any of these categories, you're better off staying indoor where it's cooler.
The Stages of Overheating.
Prolonged exposure to excessive heat leads to symptoms that become progressively worse unless you get out of the heat and do what is necessary to protect yourself.
At first, if you're exercising in the hot weather and not drinking enough water, you may develop cramps -- painful spasms that occur most commonly in the legs but also in the abdomen and arms. When that happens, stop whatever you're doing, rest in a cool area and drink clear juice or a sports beverage. If the symptoms persists for more than an hour, see your doctor.
The next stage is heat fatigue --: You feel faint, your skin is cool and moist, your pulse is weak. This is followed by heat syncope: You're dizzy, pale and sweaty, and your heart rate may be rapid.
Heat exhaustion comes next. Although your body temperature is still normal, your skin is cold and clammy; you're thirsty, not well -coordinated, nauseated. You may have a headache and feel dizzy. You must immediately be rehydrated with water, salt and minerals. If these symptoms persist even after you've cooled off, see a doctor.
Finally, there is heat stroke. If you've let matters go this far, you're in trouble. The body temperature is above 103 degree F, your skin is dry and flushed, your pulse is strong and rapid, your mental stare is impaired, and you're on your way to a coma. You may die unless you're treated immediately.
The key is prevention exercise in the heat, drink plenty of water (don't depend on your thirst to signal your need for fluids, it's not reliable) and eat lightly salted foods to replace the salt lost in perspiration. If you're indoors, make sure the ventilation is adequate.
Hot-Weather Safety Tips:
** Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose fitting clothing.
** Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to exposed area of the body.
** Wear a wide-brimmed hat. It will provide some shade and keep your head cool.
** Use air-conditioning. Fans are OK, but they're not enough to prevent heat-related symptoms.
** Avoid hot foods, and keep your meals light.
** If you're execising, drink 2 to 4 glasses of water an hour. Check with your doctor if for any reason (such as heart problems) your fluid needs to be restricted or you're taking diuretics.
If You Overheat.......
When you sweat profusely, you lose salt, minerals and water. I don't encourage my patients to take salt tablets. If you find you are perspiring heavily:
* Stop what you are doing and go to someplace cool.
* Drink fluids-- water, fruit juice or a sports drinks. Whatever you drink should not be ice cold, because that can give you stomach cramps. And "fluid" definitely does not include alcohol, which actually causes dehydration.
(HEALTH ON PARADE by: Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld or visit www.parade.com and click on "Health").
|posted by infraternam meam @ 10:50 PM