As summer is now in full effect and temperatures are rising around the country, it is a good idea to look at and learn more about heat-related illnesses that can prove to be dangerous.
Normally in hot conditions, the body will cool itself by sweating. However, if the weather is too hot, or humid, sweating may not be enough to cool the body off. The body temperature can rise to dangerous levels and cause you to develop a heat illness.
Most of these heat illnesses happen when you stay out in the heat for too long. Exercising and working outside when it is hot or humid outside can lead to heat illnesses. Seniors are one of the most at-risk populations. Moreover, some medications and drinking alcohol can raise your risk of dealing with these illnesses.
Too much heat can cause a number of problems and several illnesses under the name hyperthermia.
Heat Syncope — This type of illness is characterized by sudden dizziness that can occur when you are active in hot weather. Unfortunately, the situation can become worse if you are taking heart medication like a beta-blocker. Similarly, if you are not used to hot weather, you are more likely to feel faint or tired.
Heat Cramps — As the name suggests, heat cramps are the painful tightening of the muscles in the stomach, arms, or legs. Cramps can result from a number of different things including working hard and exercising.
Heat Rash — Heat rashes are skin irritations that are caused by excessive sweating, they are more common in younger children.
Heat Edema — Heat edema is swelling in the ankles and feet when you get hot.
Heat Exhaustion — Heat exhaustion is a warning that the body can no longer keep itself cool. It can cause you to feel thirsty, dizzy, weak, nauseous, uncoordinated, and more. It can cause the body to sweat profusely. During heat exhaustion, body temperature can stay but your skin may feel cold. It can cause a rapid pulse in the body.
One of the most worrisome heat illnesses is heat stroke as it can prove to be fatal. Heat stroke is a life-threatening illness in which the body temperature rises above 106 degrees in minutes. Symptoms include dry skin, rapid, strong pulse, dizziness, nausea, and more. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if treatment is not received.
Untreated heat stroke can damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles. The damage becomes worse the longer treatment is delayed and increases the risk of serious complications or death.
A few quick tips to help avoid heat stroke include protecting against sunburn, be cautious during the hottest parts of the day, be aware of medication side effects and don’t stay in a parked car.
There are a number of other general tips that you can take advantage of to help stay cool in the summertime.
Tips For Staying Cool
One of the best ways to lower the risk of heat illness is to prevent dehydration and drink lots of fluids. However, there are a number of other easy changes that you can make to lower and risk of dealing with heat stroke or other types of heat illnesses and possibly avoid the situation entirely.
Some of the best ways to stay cool in the heat of the summer include:
Utilize Air Conditioning — Living in a house without air conditioning should not even be an option for some seniors. If possible, people without air conditioners or fans should go to places where these items are present, such as senior centers, movie theaters, and libraries.
Avoid Crowded Locations — Crowded and overpopulated locations can cause someone to feel stressed out and can increase body temperature. If there is somewhere you want to go that is generally crowded, plan a trip during non-rush-hour times.
Dress Appropriately — While some older adults dress the same throughout the year, it is suggested that you adjust depending on the weather. For example, if it is hot outside, it is best to wear natural fabrics like cotton than can be cooler than synthetic fibers.
As mentioned before, dehydration is the main symptom of heat illness and is one of the main causes of problems like heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Dehydration is caused by the loss of too much fluid from the body. It happens when the body is losing more fluids than you are taking in and your body does not have enough fluids to function properly.
Obviously, the way that you avoid dehydration is to make sure that you’re getting enough fluids in the body. Drinking enough water throughout the day is important, each person’s needs are different so it is best to consult a health care professional on how much you should be drinking each day. It also best to avoid drinks that have high sugar or caffeine. Moreover, you should be drinking extra fluids when the weather is hot or when you are sick.
It should be noted that older adults have a higher chance of dehydration as they lose their sense of thirst as they age and it can lead to them not drinking enough fluids.
While these tips can be helpful for those who are in hot or humid parts of the country, some seniors may not be able to use them effectively as they may be dealing with age-related issues that can interfere with day-to-day life. If this is the case, it may be best to seek out the help of a caregiver or an assisted living facility.
One assisted living facility in Hobbs New Mexico that can help is Landmark Senior Living. Landmark has a number of facilities and dedicated staff to help make life at Landmark a fun and exciting experience. Landmark also has memory care services in place to help residents who are dealing with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. If you would like to learn more about what Landmark can offer, please visit our website today.