Welcome Wisdom

Surviving the sweltering summer heat!

Denise MacDonald

by Denise MacDonald, RN Care Manager

For most of us, summer is a great time of the year, with warmer temperatures leading to more outdoor activities, vacation time, and more family time. While we enjoy our time outdoors in the sun, there are several heat-related conditions that can be serious or even life-threatening.
Overexposure to the sun or heat can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, or more seriously, heat or sunstroke. The ones most at risk are children under five and the frail elderly. Even in the shade or indoors, some can still be at risk.
Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you take in. Symptoms in adults may include extreme thirst, decreased urine output, dark-colored urine, dizziness, fatigue, and confusion. Adults or children who have become seriously dehydrated from an illness (vomiting, diarrhea or high fever) should see a doctor immediately.
Heat exhaustion is another heat-related syndrome that can affect anyone. It can begin slowly or come on suddenly and is usually from working or playing in the sun for extended periods. Symptoms include heavy sweating, dizziness, faintness, weak and rapid pulse, headache, nausea or muscle cramps. If not attended to, heat exhaustion can lead to sunstroke (heatstroke).
Sunstroke is a condition where the body temperature rises because the body cannot cool itself properly. This can be a life-threatening condition and should be taken seriously. Symptoms are throbbing headache, nausea and/or vomiting, dizziness, rapid heart rate, and a lack of sweating. One should never delay getting medical help in this situation.
All these illnesses can be prevented. When temperatures are high and you or your family are affected, try wearing lightweight, loose clothing, limiting your time in the sun, drinking plenty of fluids including sports drinks, and not sitting in parked cars for any length of time.  Have a wonderful and safe summer!