Those of us living in four season states have a comedic annual ritual. The long winter drones on day after day… A break in the cold finally happens… The shorts and flip-flops come out of the closet and we take full advantage of the first weeks of hot weather and full on sun! It’s a fun tradition. What’s not so fun is overdoing it and feeling the awful effects of heat exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke. Whether you spend long hours in the garden or run more miles outside than you’ve been used to during the Winter there are a few tips to survive the heat wave outside. The key is to analyze the symptoms and then learn how to respond or better yet, prevent.
Symptoms include fainting and light-headedness that usually occurs at the end of the exercise.
- If you begin to feel faint, get out of the heat and rest in a cool place drinking cold water.
- Elevate your legs.
- Most likely you will experience “heat cramps” – tight muscles or spasms after intense exercise. To relieve these, massage and stretch the cramped muscle and drink more cold water.
Heat Exhaustion is similar to heat syncope but accompanied with nausea, vomiting, headache, fast breathing, and poor coordination. Most people in this state still try to get through their current activity but Don’t!
- Find a cool, shaded place to cool down.
- Remove as much of your sweat-soaked clothing as possible and use cold, wet towels to cool the skin.
- Elevate your legs and drink water or a sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes.
- DON’T jump into an icy bath as this cooling method is too rapid for the body to adjust.
Heat Stroke is the second leading cause of death in athletes yet totally preventable. It’s a small step from heat exhaustion to full-blown heat stroke with symptoms being hysterical behavior, delirium, blacking out, and weakness. It’s a myth that dry skin signals heat stroke – the sweating mechanism is still working. If you see someone displaying this behavior do the following to help them:
- Cool the body as quickly as possible and call 911.
- While waiting for EMS, move the person to a cooler place and swap their clothing with ice packs, cold towels, etc.
- Massage in this instance is very effective in increasing circulation in the extremities.
- If the person starts to shiver, remove all cooling devices as shivering is our natural way to increase core temperature, which needs lowering in this moment.
Follow good prevention during the hot Summer by staying well hydrated, increasing consumption of good food made up of mostly fruits and vegetables, and exercising in moderation.
See you on the table!