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Beware of heat excess

Each summer a new period of high temperatures begins. This year, it is higher than normal, according to the prediction of different regional and state meteorological agencies.

As every year, we must prevent the effects that these high temperatures can produce in our body. They can be presented as:

  1. Heat stress: Perception of discomfort and physiological stress associated with exposure to environmental heat, especially during physical work.
  2. Heat stroke: Heat stroke occurs when a person produces a quantity of heat that can not be eliminated through sweating or with dilation of blood vessels. It occurs when you reach very extreme temperatures. It is a serious illness characterized by a central temperature above 40 ° C and central nervous system disturbances that can provoke delirium, seizures or coma as a result of exposure to environmental heat or extreme physical exercise.

Risk groups of dehydration:

  • Dementias, depression, stroke, diabetes mellitus, infections, malnutrition, urinary incontinence, a background of dehydration.
  • Drugs: diuretics, neuroleptics, antidepressants, anxiolytics, laxatives, corticoids.
  • Age: > 85 years and babies.
  • Functional dependence for activities in daily life.
  • Inadequate nutritional status, including hyperprotein intake.
  • Acute situations with vomiting, diarrhea, fever.
  • Consumers of illegal drugs and alcohol.

Risk groups in case of heat wave:

  • Older people, especially over 75 years.
  • People with certain social circumstances (living alone, poverty, etc.).
  • People with physical or mental disabilities that limit self-care and mobility.
  • People with chronic diseases: cardiorespiratory, diabetes, hypertension, liver diseases, etc.
  • People receiving drugs that act on the central nervous system.
  • People with insufficient hydration or who perform an excess of physical activity.

The best measure for the treatment of heat-related diseases is prevention:

  1. Drink lots of fluids (alcoholic beverages or high sugar drinks are bad because they make it easier to lose fluids). Sports drinks provide many ions and allow you to replace the mineral salts lost by sweat. It is important to drink very regularly, anticipating the feeling of thirst. Very cool drinks are not advisable as they make the sensation of thirst disappear more quickly and, therefore, fewer fluids are ingested. For people who have to limit their fluid intake for any illness, it is advised to consult your doctor to find out how much they can drink during the summer.
  2. Have light meals that help you replenish salts lost through sweat (salads, fruits, vegetables, “gazpachos” or juices).
  3. The use of appropriate clothing is important: light and light colors.
  4. You have to try to be in places with air conditioning. If a person does not have air conditioning in its home, it is advisable to visit public places prepared as cinemas, libraries or large shopping centers.
  5. You have to lower the blinds so that the sun does not go directly into your home. Do not open the windows when the outside temperature is higher. Avoid using machines and appliances that can produce heat in the hottest hours. From 35°C inside the house, a fan only moves the air, does not cool it. Use all the traditional means available.
  6. Avoid outdoor activities during the hottest hours, especially if the activities are intense.
  7. It is advised not to leave anyone inside a seasonal car with the windows closed.
  8. People who have to work exposed to heat should drink soft drinks very often and, if they have to perform strenuous physical activities, they should rest in the shade periodically.
  9. For people with elderly relatives living alone, it is advised that they monitor them periodically to find out if they have any of the symptoms related to heat stroke.

If we find a person who has any of these symptoms, it is advisable to seek shelter in a shade or in an air-conditioned place and try to lower the body temperature by any method: immersing in cold water, wetting with a hose…, while we request urgent medical attention. In the hospital will begin the rehydration measures and lower the body temperature.

Medical Management Assistance / Dr. J.L. Guillen Mejias

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