By Superintendent pharmacist Phil Day of Pharmacy2U
As the weather heats up it’s important to remember how heat can affect our everyday health. For the chronically unwell, elderly, or very young, extreme heat can pose significant health risks and it’s best to know how to keep you and your family safe in the event of very hot weather.
A lot of the best advice may seem like common sense, but often we underestimate the effects of heat on our bodies. Health issues caused by heat waves include dehydration and/or overheating, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and sunstroke. Heat exhaustion, heatstroke and sunstroke are illnesses that can occur in more severe circumstances.
Heat exhaustion is where the body starts to lose too much water and salt through sweating. This may lead to feelings of lethargy, increased thirst, and headache.
Heatstroke and Sunstroke
Heatstroke is where the body is no longer able to cool itself, and the body’s temperature becomes dangerously high. Sunstroke is more severe and caused by prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. In the worst scenario, sunstroke can be life threatening but this is extremely rare.
7 tips on how to avoid overheating:
Consume cold drinks regularly, ideally water, and avoid tea, coffee and alcohol as these can further dehydrate the body.
2 Cold showers
Regular cool baths or showers, or splashing your face with cold water, are other useful ways of keeping cool.
Try to wear natural fabrics that are loose and not restricting.
4 Shade yourself
Make an effort to stay out of the sun, but if you must go outside, wear a hat as well as sunglasses to protect your eyes. If possible stay inside during the hottest hours of the day between 11am and 3pm.
5 Protect your skin
Always remember to apply sun cream with an SPF of at least 30.
If you or someone else feels unwell, find somewhere cool to rest and drink plenty of water.
7 Medical assistance
Most importantly, always seek medical help if symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, weakness, dizziness or cramps get worse, or don’t go away.