As the temperature rises this summer, the risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke rise with it. For older adults and young children, the risks of heat related issues are even higher as both groups of people have a harder time dissipating the heat.
With older adults often taking a multitude of medicines for various chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and more, they are at an even higher risk as there is research to suggest that these medications can potentially sensitize those who take them to heat even more. However, it’s not safe to stop taking prescription medication without talking to a doctor first, but everyone can learn how better to protect themselves from the heat with the tips below.
- Check the forecast. Before planning to be outside in the heat, check the weather forecast on your phone or online. Weather apps will often tell you if the weather is not considered safe for sensitive groups. Check the humidity levels when looking at the weather as well, as the humidity can further prevent you from dissipating the heat.
- Drink water. Staying hydrated is important regardless of the weather, but it’s crucial if you plan to be outside or indoors without air-conditioning. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty.
- Scale back. As we get older, none of our bodies respond well to the heat, and this is even more true if you are taking medications that may affect your response to the heat. It’s okay to scale your activities back because of this.
- Check in. When there’s a big heatwave, it’s a good idea to check in with others who may be more sensitive to the heat and ask them to do the same for you.
In addition to understanding ways to protect yourself from the heat, it’s also important to know heat related warning signs. A heat rash, or a cluster of pimple-like blisters, may be the first sign of a heat related issue. This can then progress to heat cramps, which involve heavy sweating and muscle pain or spasms. This can further progress to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which may both involve headaches, nausea, dizziness, and more. A heat stroke usually means that the body temperature has risen to 103 degrees Fahrenheit or more, and someone with heat stroke may also be confused, pass out, and/or have a rapid pulse.