Your Health in Mind: Heat-related illnesses and preventive measures

By Dee Griffin

During the summer heat people are susceptible to various heat related issues that can range from mild to severe. You have probably at least heard of if not experienced some of these yourself. These issues can be as simple as heat induced cramps and can progress to heat exhaustion which can escalate to heat stroke.

Contributing factors to these issues are of course the high temperature and high humidity. This is further complicated if you are participating in strenuous physical activities. Anyone can be affected by high temperature but people older than 65, pregnant women and young children are more prone to heat injuries.

There can be long term consequences to heat related illness as well. Prolonged dehydration can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate its temperature effectively which increases the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke is a critical condition that is a result of a sharp increase in body temperature that can result in severe damage to the brain, muscles, and vital organs and could lead to death. Recovery from heat stroke can last fom several days to leaving permanent changes based on the severity of the heat stroke.

Avoidance of the issue is easier than dealing with heat related issues. Common advice is to stay hydrated, avoid prolonged exposure to high temperatures, and allow for time to get acclimated to warmer environments. While all of these are true, I also encourage you to ensure that you are getting electrolytes in as well. I am not talking about a sugary sports drink either here. Avoid the sugar and opt for an electrolyte replacement that won’t add empty calories and unneeded sugar. Without the electrolytes, the water may not make it inside your cells. It is also important for you to have adequate water intake before you are going outside. I prefer to increase the water and electrolyte intake the day before being out in the heat if possible. This allows your body to get the hydration where it needs to be.

Dee Anne Griffin owns Dynamic Health Solutions, LLC and is a Family Nurse Practitioner. She has worked in the medical field for more than 20 years. She listens and recommends different options to create a unique plan that fits each individual. When not practicing medicine Griffin spends time on her family farm tending to her animals and is very active in her church. Contact her at 803-454-1661. Her offices are located at 169 A Medical Circle, West Columbia.

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