Staying Safe in Summer Heat
Whether you enjoy running, walking or playing baseball, it is essential that you be mindful of your health when participating in outdoor activities during the summer heat. Exercising and taking part in sports activities in hot weather can put extra stress on your body and between the heat and the exercise, there is a risk of overheating. To cool itself, your body responds by sending more blood circulating through your skin, which leaves less blood for the muscles, causing an increase in your heart rate. In addition to this type of stress, when the humidity is high, there is additional stress on your body because the sweat will not evaporate quickly enough from your skin, which causes your temperature to rise even higher. If you do any outdoor exercise during hot weather, it is essential that you adhere to the following precautions to avoid the risk of a heat-related illness.
Most Common Heat-Related Illnesses
The degree of a heat-related illness can vary from mild to extreme. If a heat-related illness goes untreated, it can become worse, including the risk of death. Being cautious of the heat is essential for your health when exercising outside. Overheating can result in heat-related illnesses including:
- Heat cramps sometimes referred to as exercise-associated muscle cramps, are excruciating muscle contractions that often occur with exercise.
- Heat exhaustion can cause your body temperature to rise as high as 104 degrees. It can also cause you to experience weakness, vomiting, nausea, fainting, headache, cold and clammy skin and sweating. If heat exhaustion is left untreated, it can lead to heatstroke.
- Heatstroke occurs when your body temperature reaches heat above 104 degrees. It is a serious, life-threatening emergency condition that requires immediate attention. The symptoms of heatstroke may include skin that is too moist or too dry from the lack of sweat, irritability, confusion, increase/decrease in heart rate, headache, nausea, vomiting, fainting, fatigue and/or problems with vision. Without immediate medical attention, heatstroke can lead to organ failure, brain damage or even death.
Tips to Avoid a Heat-Related Illness
Fortunately, with a few necessary precautions, heat-related illnesses are preventable. If you intend to exercise or participate in outdoor sports during hot, summer weather it is important to keep the following precautions in mind:
- Drink plenty of water
- Dress appropriately by wearing loose-fitting and lightweight clothing
- Wear sunscreen
- Allow your body to get acclimated to the outdoor weather
- Pay attention to the weather forecasts and the heat alerts
- Exercise according to your fitness level
- Take frequent breaks
- Avoid exercise in the midday sun, instead workout in the morning or evening when it is cooler
- Beware of any medical conditions you may have that could worsen with extreme heat
If you develop any of the symptoms that are associated with a heat-related illness, it is critical that you lower your body temperature and get hydrated immediately. You should immediately stop exercising and get out of the heat. If you are experiencing heat exhaustion, you should remove your sports equipment and extra clothing, fan your body and/or wet your body with cool water. If you do not feel better within about 20-minutes, you should seek medical attention. If you are experiencing the symptoms of heatstroke, immediately call 9-1-1 for medical help.
We care about our patients before, during, and after they have sought treatment. Contact Capital City Neurosurgery for more information on heat-related illnesses and follow us for tips on nutrition, exercise and more ways to maintain your health.