The sun is out and IT’S HOT…to state the obvious. Even though the temperature is up, many of us don’t stop to think about the importance of cooling our bodies. Overheating can lead to serious physical problems such as heat stroke. Today we’re going to talk about how to keep ourselves cool while enjoying the summertime heat. We’ll start with some of the symptoms and then talk about how to avoid pushing our temperatures past the limit.
Dizziness, headache, nausea, cramps, fatigue and lack of coordination are just some of the side effects that have been associated with overheating. The caveat here is that by the time we experience them, we’re already over the limit. Even more alarming, Professor Larry Kenney of Penn State University says if body temperature gets between 104 and 106 we may experience heat stroke. The old method of diagnosing heat stroke was a lack of sweat on the skin. However, Kenney warns that this only applies in about half of all heat stroke cases. If our body temperature gets too high and we are experiencing unusual symptoms, we need to seek immediate medical attention. Fortunately, there are ways to help us avoid the issue altogether.
Overheating our bodies can be easy, but so can decreasing the risk of overheating. We can start with our clothes. Wear loose fitting, light colored, lightweight clothing. This allows your body to cool naturally by promoting the flow of air to the skin and allowing heat from the sun to reflect off of the light colors. Drink lots of fluids. Since we need fluids to generate sweat to cool ourselves, dehydration can certainly be an issue. According to Texas A&M’s Agrilife Extension program, we can lose 5 to 8 pounds of fluid in a relatively short amount of time when it’s hot outside. Also, if we’re not using the restroom every 2 to 4 hours, we’re not taking in enough fluid. If we do experience symptoms such as cramps, A&M recommends taking in clear juices or sports drinks containing electrolytes and salt. Finally, take it easy in the heat. Avoid going out in the hottest period of the day. If we have to be outside, take regular breaks in the shade to cool off. It’s easy and can save us a lot of trouble later on.
Remember, always consult your physician when you have concerns about health related issues. Summertime heat is no joke. Make sure you are diligent and informed of the risks and precautions to help avoid overheating.
Stay cool out there!