A tall glass of water or iced tea is a valuable ally in the summer heat. But staying hydrated is just one way to prevent heatstroke and heat-related illness.
Keep in mind that babies and children younger than four, as well as adults older than 65, are at higher risk for heat-related illnesses. High humidity also increases the risks because it keeps perspiration from evaporating as quickly, and sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself off .
Here’s how to beat the heat this summer:
During hot weather, don’t wait to drink until you’re thirsty, says Rajashree Srinivasan, MD, associate medical director at Our Children’s House at Baylor (her patients know her as Dr. Raji).
If you’re doing strenuous activity, drink 16 to 32 ounces each hour. Wearing light-colored, loose clothing can help you keep cool, too. And when possible, stay out of the sun in the midday heat.
“Teach your kids to come inside right away if they start feeling overheated or tired, are sweating a lot or are having trouble catching their breath because it’s so hot,” Dr. Raji says.
KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS
Before a person develops heatstroke, he or she will show symptoms of heat exhaustion, which include:
- Heavy sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
“Seek immediate medical attention if you or your child develops a temperature over 104 degrees or shows symptoms of heatstroke such as flushed, hot, dry skin with no sweating,” Dr. Raji says. Other symptoms include severe, throbbing headache, sluggishness or fatigue, seizure and loss of consciousness.
When it comes to children with special needs, there are even more concerns. Children with spinal cord injuries may have a difficult time perceiving heat, explains Dr. Raji.
Parents need to be especially attentive during hot weather and make sure their kids are getting plenty of water. Parents of children with cerebral palsy, brain injuries or other conditions that interfere with verbal communication also need to keep a close eye on how hot weather is affecting their child.
This information originally appeared in the July 2013 edition of Baylor Health Magazine.