Oh For The Love Of Heat

Most people will say they love summer time with the sun shining, blue skies, pool time, and bronze-colored tans.  But along with the love of summer, there are the unfortunate effects of too much sun on your skin — wrinkles, pre-mature aging, freckles, sun spots, painful burns, and potentially skin cancer.  And we know we can reduce these effects with proper care, of which we talked about in one of our last blogs. 

There is one additional, potentially, very deadly effect of summer time – that is heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion: Often occurs when you are exposed to high temperatures especially when combined with strenuous physical activities and humidity – think demanding yard work, participating in a baseball game in the middle of the day, or as simple as sitting in the bleachers watching a soccer game or listening to a concert.  It all depends on how your body reacts and adapts to hot temperatures.  Body fluids are lost through sweating causing dehydration.  Combine that with high humidity levels where your body can’t regulate its temperature through the evaporation of sweat and you overheat.  Your temperature may be elevated but not above 104F. 

Heat exhaustion symptoms

    • Pale with cool, moist skin
    • Profuse sweating
    • Muscle cramps or pains
    • Faint or dizzy feeling
    • Headache, weakness, thirst, and nausea
    • Core (rectal) temperature elevated-usually more than 100F and the pulse rate increased

Heat stroke: Heat stroke, also referred to as heatstroke or sun stroke, is a life-threatening medical condition. Your body’s cooling system, which is controlled by the brain, stops working and the internal body temperature rises to the point at which brain damage or damage to other internal organs may result (temperature may reach 105F or greater).

 Heat stroke symptoms

    • Unconsciousness or markedly abnormal mental status (dizziness, confusion, severe restlessness, anxiety, hallucinations, or coma)
    • Flushed, hot, and dry skin (although it may be moist initially from previous sweating or from attempts to cool the person with water)
    • Blood pressure may be high or low
    • Hyperventilation
    • Rectal (core) temperature of 105F or more

 Signs of rapidly progressing heatstroke include:

    • Unconsciousness for longer than a few seconds
    • Convulsion (seizure)
    • Signs of moderate to severe difficulty breathing
    • A rectal temperature over 104F after exposure to a hot environment
    • Fast heart rate
    • Sweating that may be heavy or may have stopped
    • Skin that may be red, hot, and dry, even in the armpits
    • Severe vomiting and diarrhea

So, go ahead and enjoy your summer activities but just be aware of your environment (note where shade trees are, an air conditioned building, etc). Have plenty of cool liquid on hand or accessible to drink (non-caffeinated beverages as caffeine is a diuretic which could lead to faster dehydration.  Check on those around you (and remember to apply more sunscreen).  Be on the look-out for signs of overheating.  You never know….you just might save a life….

 (definitions and symptoms obtained from www.emedicinehealth.com)

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