Who doesn't enjoy basking under the wonderful warmth of the sun? People all over the world adore summer. It's the time for beach outings and vacations, for catching up with friends, and bonding with family. But despite all the nice things we associate with this season, it can also be a dangerous time. Sunburn, dehydration, and of course, heat stroke are just few of the health dangers that occur during summer.
Heat Stroke, which is the most dangerous form of heat injury, is a medical emergency. It can cause severe damage to the brain and other internal organs. Also called sunstroke, it begins with milder-heat related ailments such as heat exhaustion, heat syncope, heat cramps, and so on. It usually affects people ages 50 and above but it can also occur in healthy young people.
It is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperature. It generally occurs in combination with dehydration. When this happens, the body fails to control the temperature within. The main symptom is a core body temperature exceeding 105 degrees. Fainting is the most common sign. Other symptoms include seizures, nausea, confusion, loss of consciousness, throbbing headache, lack of sweating, red and hot skin, muscle weakness, cramps, rapid heart rate, rapid shallow breathing, disorientation, and even coma.
To prevent heat stroke, follow these tips:
1. Avoid outdoors during the hottest hours of the day. Stay inside an air-conditioned environment. The hottest hours are from 10 am to 2 pm. Before going out, it would be a good idea to check the temperature so you know when it is safe to leave the house. It won't be a great idea to schedule your beach outing at 12 noon. Better go there during the late afternoon around 4 pm when the sun isn't that strong anymore.
2. Always wear light clothing. It makes sense to wear summer clothes that are loose-fits and made of light materials and colors. These would allow you to cool off much more easily than tight, dark colored and heavy clothing. Don't forget to wear a wide-brimmed hat and a pair of sunglasses with protection against UV rays.
3. Apply sunscreen with high sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Apply generous amount on your skin an hour before leaving the house. Choose a product that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Go for a waterproof sunscreen that doesn't contain the harmful additive called para amino benzoic acid.
4. Drink, drink, and drink. Since heat stroke occurs in combination with dehydration, it is essential to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. Drink plenty of fluids like water, fruit juice, vegetable juice, and electrolyte-rich sports drinks. Avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee and soda as these would cause you to dehydrate even more. Don't drink alcohol either as this inhibits the body's natural ability to cool down itself.
5. Learn first aid. If somebody experiences heat stroke, call up emergency personnel right away. While waiting, initiate first aid. First, move the person to a cooler environment. Remove unnecessary clothing. Wet the person's skin with a damp cloth or sponge. Fan air over the patient. Apply ice packs on the patient's groin, neck, back and armpits, the parts where there are blood vessels closest to the skin. Cooling them will help reduce the body's temperature. Immerse the person in an ice bath, a shower, or a tub of cool water.