As the temperature rises, heat-related illnesses become a major concern. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two of the most common conditions that can occur when the body is exposed to excessive heat and humidity. In this article, we will discuss how to prevent and treat heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses:
Dehydration is a major cause of heat-related illnesses. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Water is the best choice for hydration, but sports drinks can also be helpful if you’re engaging in physical activity. Avoid sugary drinks and caffeine, as they can actually dehydrate you.
Wearing appropriate clothing is also essential for preventing heat-related illnesses. Choose light-colored, loose-fitting clothes made of breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen. These fabrics allow air to circulate around your body, which helps keep you cool. Avoid tight-fitting clothes that can trap heat and increase your body temperature.
If you’re working or exercising outdoors, take frequent breaks in a cool, shaded area. This will allow your body to cool down and reduce your risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you start to feel overheated or fatigued, stop what you’re doing and rest.
Avoid Direct Sunlight:
Direct sunlight can make you feel even hotter, so try to stay in shaded areas whenever possible. If you’re working or exercising outdoors, use an umbrella or wear a hat to protect your face from the sun. Also, try to avoid being outside during the hottest parts of the day (between 10 am and 4 pm).
Sunburn can make you feel hotter and increase your risk of heat-related illnesses. Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply it generously and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
Treating Heat-Related Illnesses:
Move to a Cool Area:
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, move to a cool, shaded area immediately. If possible, go inside to an air-conditioned room.
Drinking plenty of fluids is important for treating heat-related illnesses. Water is the best choice, but sports drinks can also be helpful if you’re sweating heavily. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can actually dehydrate you.
Apply Cool Compresses:
Use cool compresses or take a cool shower or bath to lower your body temperature. You can also wrap yourself in wet towels or sheets to help cool your body down.
Seek Medical Attention:
If you’re experiencing symptoms of heat stroke, such as confusion, seizures, or loss of consciousness, seek medical attention immediately. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can be life-threatening. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Using fans can help keep you cool, but they don’t actually lower the temperature of the air. To get the most benefit, use them in combination with other cooling methods like staying hydrated and taking cool showers or baths.
Check on Elderly or Vulnerable Individuals:
Elderly individuals or those with chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk for heat-related illnesses. If you know someone who falls into these categories, check on them frequently during hot weather and encourage them to stay cool and hydrated.
Acclimate to the Heat:
If you know you’ll be spending time in a hot environment, try to acclimate to the heat gradually. Spend shorter amounts of time in the heat initially and gradually increase the duration over time. This can help your body adjust to the higher temperatures more easily.
Know the Signs and Symptoms:
It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke so you can take action quickly if necessary. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, nausea, dizziness, and headache. Symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
Take it Easy:
Finally, remember to take it easy during hot weather. Avoid strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day and take breaks frequently. Listen to your body and rest if you start to feel fatigued or overheated.
Preventing and treating heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke is important for staying safe during hot weather. By staying hydrated, dressing appropriately, taking breaks, avoiding direct sunlight, and using sunscreen, you can reduce your risk of developing these conditions. If you do experience symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately. With proper care, most people recover from these conditions quickly and fully. Stay safe and enjoy the summer months!
About The Author
Dr. Krisca is a highly-educated and skilled physician who has obtained a BS Public Health degree from the University of the Philippines Manila and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the De La Salle Medical Health Sciences Institute. She is a licensed physician and also a Registered Medical Technologist. She has received additional training in Hemodialysis for Non-Nephro Physicians on duty and has completed online courses in related fields like depression in populations from John Hopkins University and positive psychiatry from The University of Sydney. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of International Health in the University of the Philippines.
Dr. Krisca is known for her outstanding skills and compassionate approach to healthcare that make a positive impact on people’s lives. Through her passion for healthcare, she hopes to make a difference in the world and help people lead healthier, happier lives.