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Prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke Prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke

News-Sun - 7/5/2018

SEBRING — Although sunshine provides beneficial Vitamin D — which strengthens bones and is essential for the brain, nervous system and immune system — too much sunshine or heat can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 600 people die each year in the United States due to heat and humidity. Heat-related illnesses are responsible for the deaths of more people annually than tornadoes or hurricanes.

The sun is hottest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so people should exercise and complete outdoor chores before or after that time. Sport teams are advised to have practices in the early morning or late evenings to reduce the possibility of heat-related illnesses.

Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which can be fatal, and certain populations are more vulnerable to the heat than others. People who are under 4 years of age, over 65 years of age, pregnant or chronically ill have a harder time adapting to the heat.

However, people who exercise in the heat, work in the heat and people who are obese are also at an increased risk for heat exhaustion. In addition, certain medications make people more sensitive to heat. For example, beta blockers for blood pressure make it more difficult for people to regulate their body temperatures, according to the American Family Care physicians.

A day at a local lake can be an incredibly relaxing way to enjoy the best of Highlands County, but precautions must be taken when people are working or playing in the sun.

People should take breaks in the shade or air-conditioning and wear loose-fitting and light-colored clothing. A hat is the perfect way to give your body some shade and help prevent sunburn. Cotton clothes are a great choice, because they can be soaked in water to help people stay cool.

Drinking extra water and eating foods such as watermelon and salads with high-water content can decrease the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Most people only start drinking when they are thirsty, but this is not enough. People should drink before they are thirsty, consuming at least one cup of water every 15-20 minutes in moderate heat, according to the CDC. In addition, people can also drink energy drinks and coconut water, but they should avoid caffeine, alcohol and sugary drinks.

Dr. Summer Khan, obstetrician and gynecologist at Grace & Heart ob/gyn, said, “Pregnant women need more water in their bodies due to the heart, lungs and kidneys increasing in size and work load.

“During trips to the beach or theme parks, it’s essential to have ice packs and to stay cool,” Khan said. “In fact, pregnant women should always take water and an ice pack with them anytime they travel in a car.

According to Khan, pregnant women should snack between meals, and they should eat foods with high-water content, such as grapes, carrots and unsalted nuts. This will decrease weakness and dizzy episodes.

The heat from the sun is not the only danger for pregnant women. They can have a miscarriage or birth defects if they get in a hot tub or sauna before 12 weeks of gestation.

Extreme heat can cause early labor, so Khan advises pregnant women to stay in air conditioning.

People with multiple sclerosis can experience a worsening of symptoms, such as fatigue, when they are exposed to even mild increases in temperature. Ice vests and cooling vest are additional precautions that people with MS often use to avoid unpleasant symptoms.

For people who have low incomes, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program can provide them with assistance. In addition, people who have difficulty paying for their utility bills are encouraged to seek shelter in libraries, malls and public places that have air conditioning. They are encouraged to use crock pots or other kitchen devices that do not produce as much heat in the house as an oven.

In addition to people experiencing heat stroke, animals are also vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. Cats and dogs need shelter from the extreme heat. They need some form of shade or shelter, such as a porch or large shade tree, to escape the heat. Fresh, cool water, which is kept in the shade, should be available at all times.

Animals should never be left alone in a vehicle since temperatures rise rapidly in a car, even if the windows are down.

 
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