Dr. Smolens: beat the heat and stay safe this summer

The temperatures have reached the three digits and kids are out of school.

Dr. Iva Smolens

This could only mean one thing: summer is finally here!

And while we all enjoy soaking up the sun, it’s important to protect our health when temperatures rise.

Taking simple steps — such as wearing well-ventilated shoes and avoiding the sun when it’s the strongest between noon and 3 p.m. — can make you less susceptible to heat-related conditions.

Additional tips include:

  • Stay hydrated: don’t allow dehydration to set in. Drink several cups of water before, during and after any physical activity. Hydration is key!
  • Apply sunscreen: use a water-resistant sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and reapply it every two hours.
  • Don the appropriate clothing: wear light-colored, lightweight clothing, and protect your face with a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Recruit an exercise buddy: don’t try to tackle the heat alone. If you plan on squeezing in a workout outside, be safe and bring a friend along with you.

Heat-related illnesses:

Heatstroke occurs when the body overheats and there is an elevation in body temperature. It is the most serious type of heat injury and, if left untreated, it can be fatal.

If you or a loved one experiences signs of a heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Symptoms include:

  • Dry, hot, and red skin
  • Extreme confusion
  • Seizures
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Fever
  • Irrational behavior
  • Unconsciousness
  • Rapid, shallow breathing

Heat exhaustion is a condition that results from exposure to high temperatures. It oftentimes features signs of dehydration and, although it is not as severe as heatstroke, it can still put your health at risk. Symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Dark urine
  • Moist skin

If you experience any of the symptoms, relocate to an area in the shade and do your best to cool down. Wipe your face with a wet cold cloth or compress. Seek medical attention if your health doesn’t improve within the hour.

For more information about heat safety and summer tips, visit heart.org.

About the Author:
Dr. Iva Smolens is a board-certified Cardiothoracic Surgeon and an American Heart Association volunteer. She is an avid supporter of cardiovascular health and is extremely passionate about fundraising initiatives, such as the Phoenix Heart Ball—one of the leading American Heart Association fundraising events both locally and across the nation.

The Phoenix Heart Ball
The 59th Annual Phoenix Heart Ball will take place at The Phoenician Resort on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. This year’s theme is Driven Hearts. Since its inception, this local event has raised over $33 million dollars to fund life-saving research, education and local community outreach programs such as the Halle Heart Children’s Museum and CPR in Schools. For more information, visit phoenixheartball.heart.org.

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