The summer heat and heatstroke often go together: follow our detailed advice to avoid dehydration and related health problems.
Every year nearly 700 Americans die from complications of heat-related illnesses. Normally, your body is able to keep its temperature at 98.6 °F by radiating heat and sweating.
However, when you expose yourself to intense heat and high humidity for too long, these mechanisms become ineffective, and your body starts to overheat.
First, your heart rate rises as your organism desperately tries to get rid of the excessive heat; a special kind of protein starts to be produced so that some of your cells are protected from heat damage.
This protection, however, doesn’t last very long and does not protect all of your body cells: damaged cells cause inflammation and normal enzyme function gets broken. Harm to the nervous system leads to incoordination, confusion and a loss of consciousness, while multi-organ failure can have fatal consequences.
To prevent heatstroke, always stay hydrated (clean water should be preferred to soft drinks and pop) and seek places with air conditioning. Avoid wearing several layers of clothing and stay away from enclosed environments with poor ventilation.
It is also important that you be able to recognize first signs of heatstroke. They include:
- profuse sweating
- a rapid pulse
- feeling lightheaded, dizzy, confused
- a headache
- cramps in your stomach and muscles
- elevated body temperature (especially above 103 °F)
If someone near you suffers from these symptoms, they should be immediately moved to a cool location. Taking a cold shower or even a bath with ice can help you to get rid of the heat.
During periods of hot weather people who do sports should wear as little clothing as possible, take a lot of breaks and monitor their pulse and body temperature. Remember: health is the most important thing.