Beware of Heat-Related Illness
Summer is prime time for outdoor activities, including a variety of active sports. While having fun, remember if you are exercising in hot weather to take preventive steps to avoid heat stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these include:
- Cut down on exercise. If you do exercise, rest often in the shade, and drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. However, if you’re on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
- Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar — these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
- Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
- Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level.
- Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
Shield Your Skin From the Sun
To protect your skin from the sun, the National Institutes of Health suggests you take these steps:
- Avoid the sun when it’s at its strongest. This is normally between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. Stay indoors or in the shade during those hours. Some UV rays will still reach you in the shade, because they are reflected off of concrete, sand and water. So even in the shade you should wear sunscreen or sunblock.
- Cover up. Wear long pants, a shirt with long sleeves and a hat with a wide brim that keeps the sun off your face and neck. If that’s impractical, a T-shirt, long shorts and a baseball cap are reasonable alternatives. Tightly woven fabrics will offer more protection than loosely woven fabrics. Make sure the exposed skin is well-protected with sunscreen, particularly the tops of your ears if you wear a cap instead of a hat with a brim. If your clothes get wet, they lose some of their protective ability.
- Wear sunscreen or sunblock. Sunscreen chemically absorbs rays, while sunblock deflects them. Use a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. A “broad spectrum” sunscreen protects against both UVB rays — the burning rays that are the primary cause of sunburn and skin cancer — and UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin and also contribute to burning and skin cancer. The SPF indicates protection from UVB rays only; there currently is no standard rating to measure UVA protection. Sunscreen wears off, especially if you sweat or go into the water. You will need to reapply it often, even the waterproof kind. Follow the directions on the container.
Protect Your Eyes From the Sun
Like your skin, your eyes never forget UV exposure. Studies show that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), both leading causes of vision loss among older adults. UV exposure, wind and dust can also cause pterygia, benign growths on the eye’s surface.
Select sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays. Don’t be deceived by color or cost. The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the darkness of the lens or the price tag.
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's health and wellness services or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find health general information, read the General Health News archive.