Keep it Cool When Things Heat Up

By: Jody Smith

Things can get sticky in the summer. And like it or not, one of the undesirable aspects of being a senior citizen is a greater vulnerability to summer heat. Seniors are more prone to dehydration because aging sweat glands aren't as effective as younger ones, and older blood vessels don't carry as much blood to the skin as younger ones do.

But you can give yourself an edge against the soaring temperatures.

Have a drink. Then have another one. Drink eight or more 8-ounces glasses each day. And I don't mean a Tequila Sunrise. Water, water and more water. And ditch the coffee, tea or soda -- you don't need the caffeine right now. Fruit juice or vegetable juice are good for a change. But major on the H2O.

Clothing that is made of cotton or other natural fabrics, and light in color will not be as hot as synthetics and dark colors. A hat and sunglasses will protect you from the harsher sun's rays. Don't spend time outside when the thermometer is about to explode. If your place isn't air conditioned, consider a trip to a mall, movie theater or senior center and feel the cool. If that isn't possible and you must stay in, the bath tub and shower are your friends, helping to keep your body temperature down to a healthier level. Even application of a cold wet cloth to the armpits, groin, neck and wrists will help.

According to Peter Galier, MD, of the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, when people perspire their electrolyte levels drop, and dehydration can occur. If the situation is not remedied, it can be followed by heat stroke. Heat stroke is the result of the inability to sweat, and so the inability to cool off. Body temperature consequently ratchets up. Other heat-related conditions are heat exhaustion, heat fatigue and heat cramps.

When body temperatures rise to dangerously high levels, the U.S. National Institute identifies this as hyperthermia. Heat stroke occurs when your body temperature gets up to and beyond 104 degrees Fahrenheit. If you develop nausea, headache or dizziness or if your pulse is quite rapid and you become confused, you may be experiencing heat stroke. If you are merely dehydrated, drinking more fluids can fix you up. If you have worked your way up to heat stroke however, it's time to get to the ER as quickly as possible. You'll need to be re-hydrated with fluids given intravenously before your kidneys shut down.

These are all very good reasons to take precautions during blistering temperatures. Summer can be a great season if you take steps to protect your health and well-being.

Jody Smith is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.

Sources:

Seniors and Summer Heat

http://www.seniorark.com/heat%20warning.htm

Summer heat brings dangers for seniors

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-07-31-elderly-hyperthermia_N.htm

Seniors Should Take Summer Heat Seriously

http://www.thecareguide.com/Health/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=466

Related LInks:

Keeping Your Heart Healthy in Summer Heat

http://www.empowher.com/heart-disease/content/keeping-your-heart-healthy-summer-heat

Summer Heat can Prove Deadly for Elders

http://www.empowher.com/wellness/content/summer-heat-can-prove-deadly-elders

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

http://www.empowher.com/media/reference/heat-exhaustion-and-heat-stroke

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