Don’t let the heat get the best of you

Kathleen Ellison
A&E Editor
kae742@lhup.edu

April 17, 2014

As the end of the semester creeps closer and the temperatures start to move up, we can say with certainty that summer is finally on its way. But just because the weather is nice doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about your health. With vacations to plan and friends to meet it’s easy to forget some of the dangers that come with the sunny weather.

As the days get hotter it’s important to remember to watch for symptoms of heat exhaustion. If not taken care of heat exhaustion can turn into a heatstroke which could cause damage to the brain and internal organs or even death.

Heat exhaustion occurs after prolonged exposure to high temperatures and dehydration. According to Web MD some of the most common signs of heat exhaustion are confusion, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headaches, frequent muscle cramps, nausea, pale skin, profuse sweating and rapid heartbeat.

If you have these symptoms or notice someone else with them it’s important to get somewhere cool and preferably air-conditioned. If you cannot get inside than get somewhere shady. It’s also important to remember to stay hydrated and avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages because they dehydrate you. You should also try to take a cool shower or bath and remove any tight or unnecessary clothing.

If the symptoms persist after 30 minutes contact your doctor, remember untreated heat exhaustion can escalate to heat stroke. After you’ve recovered it’s important to avoid any more hot weather and heavy exercise because you will most likely be sensitive to hot temperatures.

When looking to see what the weather will be like keep an eye on the humidity. If there is a relative humidity of over 60 percent or more impedes your body’s ability to cool itself because such high humidity hampers sweat evaporation. Temperatures above 90 degrees or more also hugely increase the risk of heat-related illnesses. So listen closely to your weatherman.

Other important things to keep in mind is that urban areas, certain health conditions, medications and age can increase your risk for heat-related illness.

Remember to keep hydrated, don’t over-exercise, and stay cool as we go into warmer temperatures.

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