2008-07-30 / Community

Hot tips to beat the heat

Newswise — The temperature is rising, and so is the risk for heat stroke.

"Heat-related injuries can range from a relatively minor problem like heat cramps to a more serious condition like heat stroke, which can be fatal," says Dr. Neal Flomenbaum, chief of emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/ Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Heat stroke occurs when a person can no longer perspire and his or her temperature control mechanism stops working. At first, it will seem like heat exhaustion, but the patient may begin to experience confusion, seizures, and other more severe side effects.

Dr. Flomenbaum and Dr. Lemery suggest the following tips to stave off the sizzling summer temperatures:

- Slow down. Strenuous activities should be reduced or eliminated, or rescheduled to a cool time of day. Persons at risk, especially the elderly, should stay in the coolest place available out of the sun or in an air-conditioned room.

Dress for summer. Lightweight, light-colored, loose clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps your body maintain normal temperatures.

- Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic fluids. Your body needs water to keep cool. Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Caffeinated beverages should be minimized in favor of water and sports drinks.

- Do not drink alcoholic beverages. While they may feel as if they are cooling you off, they can worsen the problem.

- Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.

- Don't get too much sun. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult. Always remember to use sun block (SPF15) when outdoors for prolonged periods of time in the summer months.

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