Avoiding heat stroke & looking after your health

Hot summer days are not just coming, they’re here already, and with the famous heat that Aussie Summers are known for, heat stroke can likely happen. In this week’s blog, we talk a little bit about heat stroke and share some tips on how to avoid it.

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Beat the heat

‘I’m in a shady place, I couldn’t possibly get heat stroke’. Sound like a familiar thought you’ve had before? Even in the shade, your body temperature can be affected by the heat.

According to Mayo Clinic, heat stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, usually in combination with lack of a fresh air flow and dehydration, which leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system.

Other than feeling very hot, you could experience nausea, headaches, dry skin (lack of sweat despite the heat), disorientation. In worse situations, you may lose consciousness and experience more severe effects.

Heat Stroke is most likely to affect people who live in apartments or homes lacking air conditioning or good airflow; people who work outside such as construction workers, gardeners, etc.; and quite simply, those who don’t drink enough water.

Prevention is the best cure

It’s an especially humid day but you can’t avoid going outside – try some of these helpful tips to prevent heat stroke from occurring in the first place:

  • Slip, Slop, Slap – We all know the saying growing up and it was said for a reason. Go for lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing, and make sure to slip on a hat. Also don’t forget before heading out the door to put on some sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30+.
  • Drink Up – a lot of the time heat stroke is caused by dehydration.
  • Special Care – take extra precautions when exercising or working outdoors. If the general recommendation is 8 glasses of water a day, add a glass before, after and during exercise, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Heat Exhaustion

Unfortunately, sometimes the beginnings of heat stroke can be hard to avoid. If someone is already experiencing heat exhaustion, what do you do? Try these cooling down strategies:

  • Water – If you or someone else is experiencing the beginnings of heat stroke, try fanning the skin after wetting their skin with water from a sponge, a damp cloth/tower or garden hose. The combination of the water and air can help alleviate and slow down heat stroke.
  • Ice Packs – apply ice packs to the armpits, groin, neck and back. These areas are rich with blood vessels close to the skin, cooling them may reduce body temperature.
  • Cold Shower – take a cool shower or immerse into a tub of cold water.

Heat Stroke Emergency

Some people are at a greater risk of developing heatstroke, or suffering serious side effects of severe dehydration. These people should be taken to hospital immediately:

  • Infants
  • Elderly people
  • People with long term health conditions, for example heart disease – the heat can overload the heart and lead to a heart attack or stroke. Another example would be those with diabetes –having diabetes makes it harder to handle high heat and humidity, and may require diabetic travellers to adjust their medication, as well as their diet and fluid intake.
  • People who are not acclimatised to the heat, for example overseas visitors.
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