Beating The Heat This Summer

School’s out and you’re planning a great summer with the family. The sunny skies are perfect for beach trips, picnics and other outdoor adventure, and you can’t wait! But before you go out and enjoy, make sure you’re protected from extreme heat that the summer season can bring. Summer is almost upon us and many parts of the country are experiencing high temperatures which can pose a variety of different health problems. Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet annually many people succumb to extreme heat. When the hot weather strikes it is important to keep your cool so that everything keeps running smoothly.

The high temperatures and humidity make it difficult for many people to breathe. Many people become easily dehydrated or constipated from this type of weather. What made the situation worse was that it happened early in the summer before many people have had the chance to adjust to summer weather. If you are easily affected by hot and humid weather, it is important to learn hot to eat in order to help your body adjust to the weather. Most people increase the amount of cold foods, raw vegetables, iced beverages, and frozen treats. While these can make you feel better in the short term they do not help your body adapt to the weather.

Heat illness is a spectrum that goes from heat exhaustion to the life-threatening condition called heat stroke. The warning signs of heat-related illness are cool, sweaty moist skin with goose bumps in the heat. Dizziness, headache, muscle cramps with nausea and vomiting can also be present. Once you notice any neurological changes such as confusion, hallucinations, seizures or the person becomes unconscious and lapses into a coma, that is the life-threatening emergency. You need to call 911 right away.

Any warning symptoms should prompt you to get out of the heat and into some place cool while replacing your fluids. Here are some prevention tips to avoid heat-related illness:

  • 1. Stay Well Hydrated – Drink plenty of fluids; if you are sweating a lot, consider sports drinks to replace the salts and minerals.
  • 2. Cover Up in the Sun – Use sunscreen and wear loose, light-colored clothing as well as a brimmed hat.
  • 3. Limit Activity During the Hottest Part of the Day – Try not to be participating in outdoor activity during midday, which is the hottest part of the day. Pace yourself if you are exercising in the heat; you should not allow your heart rate to be pounding nor should you allow yourself to feel completely out of breath and gasping for air.
  • 4. If Indoors, Keep Your House Ventilated – If you are indoors and have no air-conditioning, open windows and use fans to circulate the air.
  • 5. Don’t Delay Getting Help for Symptoms – If you find yourself or someone else might be suffering from heat-related illness, move to a cooler shady place, lie down, drink some fluids, and call 911.

As the mercury rises, the last thing on one’s mind is food – but if you eat smart, small & light meals and accompany it with plenty of fluids you will be a cool winner. So go ahead and take these obvious precautions! But remember the best place to start the cooling process is in your body’s core.

Celeste Botonakis

On the Nursing Assistant Guides blog, certified medical assistant Celeste Botonakis explores the daily life of a CMA. She'll keep you up-to-date with the latest on what’s happening in the field, and provides tips for those who are interested in becoming a medical or nursing assistant. Celeste has served in the medical field for over six years, and is passionate about helping people. She currently works at CSR Primary Care in Skokie, Illinois. Click here to learn more about Celeste Botonakis and