Most people relate prolonged sunlight exposure to sunburns. However, heat-related illnesses describe a wide range of potentially life-threatening conditions.
Perhaps the scariest complication is heat stroke. Losing large amounts of water from your body can precipitate devastating complications.
In this article, we will cover some of the steps you can take to prevent heat-related illnesses and protect yourself from unnecessary damage.
What are heat-related illnesses?
Heat cramps are considered the mildest form of heat illness. You may feel muscle pain and spasms, which generally occur after an intense workout.
This is a more severe form of heat-related illness. It results from losing large amounts of water and salt from the body. Excessive sweating without replenishing your liquid and salt stores is what leads to this condition.
Once the body loses the ability to cool itself properly, you develop a heat stroke.
The most severe form of heat-related illness is heat stroke. This occurs when the body is unable to regulate its internal temperature. Unfortunately, this condition can be fatal without prompt medical intervention.
How to protect yourself from heat-related illnesses
Drink plenty of water
Obviously, drinking plenty of water will restore the lost fluids and salt in your body. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, drink more water when it’s hot. Juices and sports drinks will also do the trick.
We recommend staying away from caffeinated beverages and alcohol.
Staying indoors will temper down your exposure to the sun. If you are in an area without air conditioning, just head to the mall for a few hours until the heat outside is milder.
Wear appropriate clothes and apply sunscreen
Try wearing as little clothes as possible when you are indoors. Also, choose light-colored outfits to avoid absorbing the heat.
What’s more important, though, is applying sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Optimally, you would go for sunscreen with an SPF of 50.
Do not forget to apply sunscreen every two hours even if you are not exposed to the sun. Speak with your dermatologist if you have an unusually sensitive skin for tailored medical advice.
Be careful about your outdoor plans
Be careful when scheduling outdoor activities during summer. Optimally, you would organize your activities during the early morning in the evening. Avoid the noon period when the sun is peaking.
Moreover, try to find a shaded area to perform your activities. Finally, do not leave kids or pets in a parked car under any circumstances.
Heat-related illnesses can cause severe damage to the skin and other exposed organs. Without proper preventive measures, you may find yourself in an emergency room with serious complications.
We hope that this article managed to highlight the potential damage of heat-related illnesses, as well as the evidence-based ways to prevent them.
By Dr. Kevin Crawford, Lubbock Sports Medicine Doctor and Orthopedic Surgeon.
Here’s to your health!
Click for more information about Dr. Kevin Crawford, Orthopedic Surgeon
Dr. Kevin Crawford