While there are many benefits of summer time such as more produce options and better weather to encourage us to be more active before and after work hours, there are still some risks that come along with the longer days filled with sunshine and warmth. As the summer months wind down, there are some days that still might be warmer than we expect, but yet our guard is down since we are heading into the Fall…so please keep your guard up because the hot days of early Fall still can pack a negative punch to our health.
Heat Stroke is a term that many of us have heard of, but many of us may not be too clear as to what it really means. It is when a body’s core temperature reaches above about 104 degrees Farenheit and the symptoms you’ll notice in someone would include, but are not limited to: nausea, vomiting, headaches, muscle cramps and pain, dizziness, fatigue, hallucinations, disorientation, loss of consciousness, weakness, seizures, coma, agitation, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, rapid pulse, elevated body temperature, and absence of sweating despite hot flushed skin.
There are other states of being over-heated such as heat cramps or heat exhaustion, which are milder versions of hyperthermia spectrum (conditions of elevated body temperature spectrum). Neither of these conditions, however, should be considered ‘mild’ and still should be addressed before it progresses into a more lethal state of heat stroke.
It is important to remember that heat stroke is a medical emergency and if left without prompt treatment, it can lead to death. So, the main thing to keep in mind is to get help as soon as possible and help to cool down the patient.
Those who are more at risk are those who are dehydrated and in the elderly, infants, those who work outdoors in the sun, or athletes. If you fall into one of these categories…or even if you don’t…just remember to stay hydrated and avoid physical activities or exertion when the weather is hot and/or humid.
I usually will recommend my patients to check the weather forecast in the morning and try to plan your activities accordingly. If it will be a scorcher that day, it’s wise to avoid outdoor activities especially if you know you won’t have access to hydration or locations where you can cool off. Days like this should indicate that you are better off staying indoors that day rather than taking the risk of a potentially fatal complication with your outdoor activity.
Having said all this, I am still encouraging everyone to enjoy what’s left of the summer months responsibly. Please do not take this as an indication to not be active at all. Instead, see it as yet another opportunity to learn how to enjoy your environment in a way that helps to promote your health, rather than hurt it. Happy jogging, walking, or hiking this summer…let’s just remember to check the weather and make sure to bring plenty of water as well!
Dr. Julie T. Chen, M.D. an integrative medicine physician who is board-certified in internal medicine and is also fellowship-trained and board-certified in integrative medicine. She has her own medical practice in San Jose, CA, is the medical director of corporation wellness at several Silicon Valley-based corporations, is on several medical expert panels of websites as well as non-profit organizations, is a recurring monthly columnist for several national magazines, and has been featured in radio, TV, newspaper, and magazine interviews. She incorporates many types of healing modalities into her practice including, but is not limited to, medical acupuncture, Chinese scalp acupuncture, clinical hypnotherapy, strain-counterstrain osteopathic manipulations, and biofeedback. To learn more about Dr. Julie, you can check out her website at www.makinghealthyez.com.