here and in South Africa we’re especially blessed with many long days of
brilliant sunshine. But being exposed to the season’s heat at work or play can
take its toll on your health. We’ve got some tips on how to cope with the
body loses more fluid through perspiration than you take in, you stand the risk
of becoming dehydrated, a condition that prevents your body from functioning
properly. The signs of dehydration include a dry and sticky mouth, decreased
urination, headaches, thirst, dry skin, tiredness, diarrhoea, constipation and
dizziness. Mild or moderate cases are usually fixed by drinking fluids –
especially water – but in more severe instances medical treatment may be
painful sunburn is probably the most common summer problem for those of us with
more delicate skin who spend a lot of time outdoors. While sunlight is
beneficial (its plays an important role in the production of essential vitamin
D), the ultraviolet (or UV) rays contained in it can do damage to the skin,
causing burns and skin cancer. Luckily, protecting yourself against these
dangers is quite straight forward:
¯ Stay out of the glare of the full sun, especially between 10am and 4pm,
by sticking to the shade and covering exposed areas of skin with clothing. A
broad-brimmed hat is highly recommended.
¯ Half an hour before going outside, apply a sun cream with a sun
protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and reapply it at regular intervals.
This is particularly important for children and when you are spending time in
the water, for example at the pool or the beach. Look for a sun cream that is
effective against both UVA and UVB rays.
¯ Protect your eyes with a good pair of UV-blocking sunglasses.
¯ Some studies suggest that certain vitamins, including vitamins C, E, D
and A can help reduce the skin damaging effects of sunlight, so speak to your
pharmacists about an appropriate supplement.
serious effect of prolonged exposure to elevated temperatures and the sun is a
life-threatening medical emergency known as heatstroke or sunstroke in which
the body is no longer able to regain its normal operating temperature. Doctors
define heatstroke as a condition in which the core body temperature rises to
above 41 degrees Celsius. Common symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, rapid or
shallow breathing, hot, dry skin, dilated pupils, dark urine, painful muscle
cramps and spasms, nausea and vomiting, throbbing headaches, confusion,
incoherent speech, seizures and fainting. Heatstroke can result in serious
damage to the brain and other internal organs. If you suspect someone is
suffering from it, it is important to call for emergency medical assistance
TAKE IN AN EMERGENCY
wait for help to arrive, you should:
¯ Move the person to a cool area out of the sun and ask them to lie down;
¯ Remove any unnecessary items of clothing and cool the person down by
fanning them with air, wetting their skin with water, applying ice packs or
cold compresses to their armpits, groin, neck and back, or covering them with
wet sheets or towels;
¯ Get them to take a cool shower or bath;
¯ Ask them to drink some water, juice or a sports drink.
CHILLED DESPITE THE SUMMER HEAT
scientists tell us that extreme heat waves are likely to increase in intensity
and frequency as a result of global warming during the decades to come. Such
events can be surprisingly dangerous, claiming thousands of lives around the
world every year. Staying out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day
and keeping hydrated by drinking lots of fluids are probably the most effective
strategies for managing comfort levels on sunny days, but there are many other
tricks you can try. ?Slow down. Operating in a lower gear than normal prevents
your system from overheating.
comfortable, loose-fitting clothes made of light, breathable materials.
? Fill a
small spray bottle with water, keep it in your fridge and mist yourself with a
few refreshing spritzes whenever you’re feeling hot and bothered.
? Eat spicy
food. This might come as a bit of a surprise, but the ‘heat’ of the food will
make you sweat and sweating is the body’s natural mechanism for cooling itself
down. Avoid baked and fried goods as well as large meals that are rich in
protein, sugar and fat. They will raise your metabolic rate and heat up your
? Keep the
inside of your home cooler for longer by opening doors and windows in the early
morning and evening, but pulling the curtains when the sun’s out. Use fans to
promote a cooling airflow throughout the day.
? Drink fruit
juice or sports drinks to replace the salt and electrolytes your body is losing
through sweating. Limit your consumption of sweet cooldrinks, caffeine and
alcohol, all of which have dehydrating effects.
hydrated doesn’t only mean drinking plenty of fluids but can be supplemented by
eating foods with a high water content such as cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes
? Make a
cold compress by dampening a washcloth and placing it in the freezer for a
while before applying it to your wrists, ankles, elbows, groin, neck, forehead
and the back of your knees. Simply immersing your wrists or feet in a basin of
cold water every now and then will also do the trick.
? If a
little bit of moisture doesn’t bother you when you go to sleep, dampen a sheet
with water and use it as a cooling blanket at night.