June 14, 2020
If you're like me, you can't wait for summer to get here, but once those 90-100 degree days come around you start counting down to fall....With temperatures on the rise, I am offering tips for preventing heat-related illnesses.
1. Drink more fluids - Do this regardless of how much activity you’ll be doing outside. (And no, alcoholic beverages do not count.) Make sure not to wait until your body tells you are thirsty to drink.
**Of course, if your doctor has you on fluid restriction or if you are taking water pills, you should ask them how much water you should be drinking during the warmer summer months.**
2. Avoid liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar because they actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
3. Stay indoors and preferably in an air-conditioned space. If you do not have A/C at your home, go to a public place like a mall or a library for a couple of hours out of the day - it’s been shown that even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Your local health department can also tell you if there are any heat relief shelters in your city.
4. Electric fans may provide a little relief, but they do not prevent heat-related illnesses when temperatures get above 90 degrees. It is much better to take a cool shower or bath or move to an air-conditioned place.
5. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
6. I shouldn’t have to say this, but NEVER, EVER LEAVE ANY LIVING THING IN A CLOSED, PARKED VEHICLE. When you have deviated from your normal routine and it involves a child or a pet, be extra vigilant in remembering that they are in your car. Set an alarm, reminder or something!!
7. Make sure to regularly check on infants and young children, people over the age of 65, those who have mental illness or who are chronically ill; they are at much higher risk for suffering from a heat-related illness.
If you just HAVE be out there in the heat:
• Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
• Cut down on exercise. Wait, what?? Ok, let me re-phrase that. If you choose to exercise outside: drink at least two to four glasses of cool (nonalcoholic) beverages each hour. Sports beverages (like Gatorade, Powerade, etc) can help to replace the salt and minerals you lose when you sweat.
• Try to rest often in shady areas and protect yourself by wearing large-brimmed hats, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher. And this goes for those of us with darker skin as well! I got my first sunburn on a trip to Hawaii thinking that “black folks don’t get sunburned”. I learned the hard way that we definitely do and was a very painful lesson to learn.
STAY SAFE OUT THERE!
Dorsha James, MD, is a 15-year veteran emergency medicine physician in the Nashville, TN area. She now serves as the CEO and chief medical officer for her company myURGENCYMD. myURGENCYMD is a national telemedicine company that provides members with access to 24-hour, seven-day-a-week virtual consultations with a board-certified physician to discuss non-emergency conditions. She enjoys empowering patients by helping them understand how to properly utilize the many avenues for the treatment of medical conditions to obtain optimal health. To learn more about the company, visit www.myurgencymd.com