Elderly patients at greater risk of heat stroke

It starts out innocently enough: You’ve been outside in the hot summer sun, and your muscles begin to cramp. Then you start to sweat.

But what might seem like a “normal” reaction to the summer heat might actually be the beginnings of a serious and possibly life-threatening condition.

Your body is trying to cool itself off, but you’re losing fluids… and fast. And as your blood moves away from your vital organs to your skin, you feel dizzy and tired. Your pulse quickens. You might even start to feel a bit sick.

And if you don’t do something about it right away, you could be dealing with heat stroke.

That’s when your body can no longer regulate its own temperature – so you’ll feel hot, but you won’t be able to sweat to cool yourself down.

When heat stroke hits, every minute counts. Your body temperature could skyrocket to as high as 106 degrees within just 15 minutes. And if you don’t cool down RIGHT AWAY, it could lead to permanent damage.

It could even be fatal.

You’re especially vulnerable to heat stroke if you’re overweight… or you’re getting up there in years. So it’s important to do something at the FIRST sign of a problem – and to cool down as quickly as possible.

Your best bet? Jump into a cold pool.

It may sound silly, but an Indiana University study found that any kind of cold-water immersion (even the ice bucket challenge!) could lower body temperature enough to prevent organ damage.

But if you’ve got a headache… feel confused… or have trouble catching your breath, consider it an emergency. You might even find yourself throwing up… or passing out… and that’s when you’ll need an ambulance.

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to keep your cool this summer, outside of the hospital ward:

• Read your labels: Some meds might affect your own internal thermostat, making you more vulnerable to heat exposure and exertion. For instance, a study on rats showed that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers (NSAIDs) deactivated their internal cooling system, making them fail to regulate their overheated bodies.

• Change your schedule: When the mercury rises above 100 degrees, it’s often best to avoid the elements between the hours of peak heat, usually noon to 6 p.m. Take an early morning walk or an early evening stroll instead.

• Find a cool place: When temperatures reach the triple digits, you’ll need more than a fan to stay cool during peak daylight hours. If you don’t have an air conditioner at home or can’t get one, go somewhere that does – the library, museum or even the movies.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Editor
Nutrition & Healing
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Sources:

Know the Warning Signs of Heat Stroke vs. Heat Exhaustion, wandtv.com/story/32196398/know-the-warning-signs-of-heat-stroke-vs-heat-exhaustion

Heat can strike down the unwary, thestate.com/news/local/article83173867.html

Ibuprofen Pre-Treatment Increases Biomarkers of Heat Stroke Severity and Attenuates Fever during Recovery in Conscious Rats, fasebj.org/content/30/1_Supplement/1243.2.short

On-Site Treatment of Exertional Heat Stroke, ajs.sagepub.com/content/43/4/823.short

Heat Stress in Older Adults, emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/older-adults-heat.asp

Heat Stroke Treatment & Management:emedicine.medscape.com/article/166320-treatment

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