The dog days of summer are here… hot temps, high humidity, and little breeze. Besides the modern convenience of air conditioners, how can you young at hearts stay safe and continue to enjoy the sunshine?
As a side note, who actually invented the air conditioner?
Willis Carrier stood on a foggy Pittsburgh train platform in 1902. He stared through the mist and realized that he could dry air by passing it through water to create fog. Within a year, he completed his invention to control humidity – the fundamental building block for modern air conditioning.
What is Heat Illness?
Heat illness is a spectrum of symptoms that results when people get too hot from high outside temperatures, especially with high humidity. The symptoms can be as mild as simple fatigue, or as severe as shutdown of the vital body organs leading to death. Some people may pass out, get dizzy, or become confused. When humidity is high, sweat doesn’t evaporate as readily and the body can’t cool itself well.
Who is at Risk?
Those most susceptible to dehydration and heat illness are the very young, those with medical problems, those taking certain medications, and those over 65 years of age. Older folks are more vulnerable because their bodies don’t adjust well to sudden temperature changes. Also, chronic medical conditions change their body responses to heat, and certain medications can impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature. In addition, alcoholic beverages and prolonged exposure to heat are not a good combination. Alcohol may increase dehydration through its diuretic effect, and may impair one’s ability to recognize the symptoms of heat illness and make a decision to get out of the heat.
How Do I Treat Symptoms of Heat Illness?
The most immediate move should be to get out of the heat and into a cool environment. If you are awake, drink some fluids, apply cool compresses or cool water, and sit in front of a fan. Those who pass out, remain dizzy, are confused, or unconscious should be seen immediately in an emergency department.
How to Prevent Over-Heating?
If you are at high risk for heat illness, remain in air conditioning as much as possible. When outdoors, wear light colored cotton clothing, drink plenty of fluids (both before and after going outside), and limit duration and intensity of outside activities.
If you wish to remain active outside, exercise in the cooler parts of the day, choose shady areas for walks, take water with you, wear sunscreen, and drink fluids before and after exercise.
Remember to check on neighbors during hot weather stretches and avoid leaving children or pets outside or in hot cars.
Lastly, and of great importance, keep or start exercising at Motion 4 Life Fitness, we have plenty of cold air and water!
Carol Weesner, MD
Motion 4 Life Fitness
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Suite 100, Carmel, IN 46033
(148th & Gray Road, Carmel / Westfield)