ER doctor tells us how to beat the heat
Drink more water! Stop running and slow down! How many of us have heard our mothers yell those instructions to us during the dog days of our youthful summers when temperatures soared above the 90 degree mark and the blazing sun beat down on us all day.
Well, it seems that our moms were right. Medical experts say that is the best way to beat the heat.
Dr. John Marshall, chairman of emergency medicine at Maimonides Medical Center, 4802 10th Ave. in Borough Park, said that the best way to deal with the oppressive summer heat is to take the proper precautions.
“The body has a way of keeping itself cool by letting heat escape through the skin, or perspiring,” Marshall said. “If the body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, the person may suffer a heat-related illness,” he warned.
Summertime activity should be balanced with measures to assist the body’s natural cooling mechanisms, according to Marshall.
His advice? Drink more fluids. And don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Also, avoid liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar as these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. That can lead to dehydration, Marshall said.
But you should also stay away from very cold drinks because they can cause stomach cramps, he advised.
Marshall said that if at all possible, stay indoors in an air conditioned room on days when the temperature and humidity are at high levels. Electric fans may provide some comfort, but when the temperature is in the 90s or above, fans will not prevent heat-related illness, he said.
If your home does not have air-conditioning, go to a nearby shopping mall, public library, movie theatre, or any other venue that’s cooler. Even a few hours spent in air-conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat, Marshall said. You can also call 311 to find out if there are any cooling centers in your community.
If it’s not possible to stay inside and you must be outside, then wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat to deflect the sun’s harmful rays. If you can, limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. Use a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15. Sunscreen will prevent sunburn, which can limit the skin’s ability to cool itself, the doctor said.
While you’re outside, cut back on daily exercise. If you feel you have to exercise, remember to rehydrate and drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour.
Avoid hot foods and heavy meals. They add heat to the body. Marshal suggested eating frozen treats.
It’s easy for people overlook that they are at risk for heat-illness, according to Marshall, who said heat acts as an insidious killer. Anyone can be susceptible to a heat-illness, which can become serious or even deadly if left untreated. Seniors, people with chronic physical health conditions or psychiatric disease, and those taking medications that can impair thermoregulation are susceptible to heat illnesses, he said.
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