Get Healthy: Keep your cool in the summer heat
For the Nevada Appeal
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Q: What are some suggestions for keeping cool in summer?
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises us to balance summer activity, whether it’s at work or at play, with measures that aid our body’s cooling mechanisms. Each year, hundreds of Americans lose their lives due to heat-related illness. Fortunately our area is blessed with relatively dry heat, which enables bodies to self-cool via sweat evaporation fairly well. Nevertheless, certain conditions can limit one’s ability to regulate temperature, including old age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, poor circulation, sunburn, and drug or alcohol use.
Tips for Hot Weather
Drink more water. Increase your fluid intake. During hot weather it is critical to do so, especially if you are 65 or older. However, avoid alcoholic beverages because alcohol actually causes you to lose fluids, and avoid very cold beverages because they can cause stomach cramps.
Replace Salt and Minerals
Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that should be replaced. The easiest and safest way to replace salt and minerals is through your diet. Drink fruit juice or sports beverages during exercise or any work in the heat. Salt tablets should be used only under the direction of a physician. If you are on a low-salt diet, check with your physician before drinking sports beverages.
Wear Appropriate Clothing and Sunscreen
At home, dress as lightly as possible. When you have to be in the sun, wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat for portable shade. Sunburn is to be avoided because it affects the body’s ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids, not to mention the pain and damage to your skin. The key is applying it liberally and using at least SPF 15. Remember to reapply after sweating or swimming.
When you are unaccustomed to working in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually, if at all. Slower is better because hot weather is taxing on the body and adding physical labor is high exertion. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and you are gasping for air, STOP all activity and sit in some cool shade to rest.
Stay Cool Indoors
The most efficient way to beat the heat is to stay in an air-conditioned area. Evaporative coolers work well in our dry climate and are a good substitute for air conditioning. If you have neither, consider a visit to a cool library, shopping mall or movie for a few hours. Electric fans are great at night to help draw cool air into your home, but do little in the daytime to alleviate a heat wave. When the temperature is 90 degrees or higher, a fan will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or spraying yourself with cool water is fairly effective. Also, use your oven and stove sparingly when it’s hot to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.
Schedule Outdoor Activities Selectively
If you must be in the heat, plan your activities in the early morning or later in the evening.
Adjust to the Environment
When the temperature changes suddenly, as is often the case in Northern Nevada, it is stressful to your body. You will have a greater tolerance for the heat if you limit your physical activities until you become accustomed to the heat. When traveling to a hotter climate, take it easy for a few days before attempting any vigorous exercise.
Use Common Sense
Avoid hot foods and heavy meals – they add heat to your body. Think salads and iced tea. Do not leave pets or infants in a parked car. Dress infants in cool, loose clothing and monitor fluid intake. Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area.
PARENTS: Don’t wait till the last minute to get your children’s immunizations. Schools require proof of vaccinations. Immunizations are offered at Carson City Health and Human Services every Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; closed for lunch.
WHOOPING COUGH OUTBREAK IN
In neighboring California, confirmed cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, is triple that of last year. The five infants who died from it caught it from adults. Infants are not fully protected by their whooping cough immunizations until they are 6 months old. For this reason, local health officials encourage Tdap boosters for any adult that is in close contact with an infant, as well as regular immunizations for infants and children. Whooping cough boosters for adults and vaccine for infants is available at Carson City Health and Human Services.
Carson City Health and Human Services
Clinic Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday
9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by appointment
Where: 900 East Long Street, Carson City
Thursday is Immunization Day
When: 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
No appointment needed
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• Pam Graber is the public information officer for Carson City Health and Human Services. Reach her at 775-283-7906 or firstname.lastname@example.org