Health and Wellness

Posted 6/9/21

Heat: How Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be Too Much of a Good Thing! By Nicole DePalma MS, LMT As these past few days have proved, there’s heat, and then there’s “heat”! We’ve been pushing …

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Health and Wellness


Heat: How Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be Too Much of a Good Thing!

By Nicole DePalma MS, LMT

As these past few days have proved, there’s heat, and then there’s “heat”! We’ve been pushing 100 degrees in our neck of the woods lately, and perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “heat advisory is in effect” wherever you get your news and weather.

Excessive heat is dangerous.Approximately 618 deaths occur annually due to heat-related illnesses, and most of them would have been preventable. But “knowledge is power”, and if we take care, we can stay safe during excessive heat bouts, and go on to enjoy our wonderful summer months when the weather is more temperate.

Heat related illnesses arise when our bodies can’t cool themselves as they normally would. Usually, we cool ourselves by sweating, but in extreme heat, our body heat can rise faster than we can cool ourselves by sweating. Those most at risk of developing a heat related illness during an excessive heat bout are the very young or the very old, those with mental illness or a chronic illness, and those who participate in strenuous activity in the heat such as construction work, or heavy exercise. Over-exposure by being in excessive heat for prolonged periods of time, and over-exertion in excessive heat are by far the greatest factors for someone suffering a heat related illness. Sunburn also slows the skin’s ability to release excess heat through sweating.

Interestingly, those of us who live in more urban areas than rural are at a greater risk of developing a heat related illness because concrete and paved roadways keep and hold heat as well as reflect the sun’s heat back to us, and some people may live in houses or a living arrangement where there is little to no air conditioning. Other factors that will increase our chances of dealing with a heat related illness besides a prolonged exposure to extreme heat and humidity are: Dehydration Certain drug prescriptions Heart disease Obesity Fever Poor circulation Alcohol or sugary beverages Please also consider one other factor; our cars. Take a look at these statistics, and then we begin to realize how dangerous it is to leave anyone or pets in a car in the heat for even a small amount of time. When the outside temperature is 80 degrees, it will reach 109 degrees in the car within twenty minutes. It will reach 118 degrees in the car within forty minutes, and it will reach 123 degrees in the car within one hour!

We hear phrases during news or weather casts like “heat advisory”, etc. Here’s a way to put these phrases into perspective. A ‘heat outlook” which is relatively minor, means that there may be excessive heat in our area within three to seven days. A “heat watch” means we may be subjected to excessive heat in 12 to 48 hours. And, a “heat warning” or “heat advisory” is a major issue, meaning that excessive heat will be experienced within the next 36 hours. During any of these events, we need to hydrate well, try to locate to an air conditioned or well-ventilated area, stay out of the sun during the hottest times of the day if possible, and check on the elderly, children, and the vulnerable at least twice a day to ensure they are safe and well.

I’ve included a chart from the Centers For Disease Control that is a handy guide to what different heat related illnesses are, what the signs and symptoms of each are, and how to treat them, including medical assistance. Please keep this chart handy, or go to the CDC’s website and search for “heat related illness”. You’ll find the same chart I’ve included with this article, and lots of other good information on staying safe during excessive heat and humidity all summer long. Remember, heat related illnesses can be prevented, and following these guidelines will help us stay “healthy, happy, and wise”. Cheers and Be Well.