For Your Health
Some Don’t Like It Hot
The special risks of summer, from heat rash to heat exhaustion to heat stroke
With the dog days of summer upon us, it’s a good time to review the issues a hot climate can raise. If you’re active outdoors, it’s a serious enough issue that the National Collegiate Athletic Association has implemented guidelines for sports teams that train outdoors, and Florida Power & Light has instituted a buddy system where workers monitor one another for heat-related problems. We all know the stories of teens at boot camps who have died from heat and dehydration.
Here, a primer on the types of heat problems, how to prevent and treat them.
Heat-related problems occur when the body can’t cool itself sufficiently through sweating. Besides heat and humidity, a surprising number of other factors can limit your body’s cooling capacity, including alcohol use, heart disease, obesity and sunburn. Certain medications, including tranquilizers, diuretics and psychotropics, can also impair your cooling.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion – you’re pale, sweating heavily, dizzy, weak, tired, nauseous, with headache or muscle cramps – you should take measures immediately to cool your body down. Here are some steps the experts recommend: Move to a cooler place, preferably one that’s air conditioned, drink cool water and elevate your legs above your heart. Some coaches keep a bucket of ice water handy to douse their players in hot, humid weather.
Dehydration is a major contributor to heat-related illnesses, so make sure you drink enough water, particularly if you exercise. You need to replace the fluids you have lost through sweating, ounce for ounce. Water or a sports drink that replaces minerals and electrolytes work well.