Summer is the season that most people look forward to as this is the time of year when we indulge in activities like swimming, grilling, and walking barefoot on the grass. But hot weather also comes with its own set of health risks. The change in temperature that occurs due to the change in weather i.e. from winter to summer forces the body to adapt and this adjustment takes time. There may also be days when we may have a high or low temperature and adapting to it will take time, which will affect our health. These changes, especially the increase in temperature, bring the risk of dehydration, skin burns, fever, etc., but two of the most common words or conditions used during this season are exhaustion due to heat and heat stroke. Although the trigger for both may be the same, their impact is different.

What is the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body begins to show signs of overheating before heatstroke sets in. Heat stroke occurs when the body reaches a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Heatstroke requires emergency treatment and can be life threatening. That’s why it’s important to take heat exhaustion seriously.

How do you identify heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

Some of the most common symptoms of heat exhaustion are confusion, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headache, muscle cramps, nausea, pale skin, sweating, and increased heart rate cardiac. Heat exhaustion is an indicator of possible heat stroke, however, aside from indicators of heat exhaustion, other symptoms commonly associated with heat stroke are dizziness, fatigue, and muscle cramps .

Who is at risk?

While it’s true that heat exhaustion can affect anyone, some people are more at risk than others. This includes children, the elderly, people taking certain medications like steroids, blood pressure medications, and heart medications, people with heart, respiratory, or other conditions, and people who are obese.

What precautions should be taken during the summer season to avoid heat exhaustion and heatstroke?

Always carry sunscreen: Always apply sunscreen before going out in the sun as it protects against harmful UV rays and premature aging.

Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water regularly is a must in the summer. Eat water-rich fruits like oranges, watermelons, cucumbers, lemons, etc. Consuming fresh juices or smoothies is also a good choice as it can prevent dehydration and heatstroke.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Excessive consumption of caffeine, tea or alcohol promotes dehydration, so refrain from it. Instead, sip lemon juice or coconut water to stay hydrated and fit.

Avoid hot showers: It is advisable to take a cool shower during summers as they lessen acne breakouts and also provide relaxation to the mind.

Avoid going out: Going out when the temperature is high can cause sunburn and heatstroke, thus limiting outings.

Eat regularly: It is important to eat fruits and vegetables rich in water. Include citrus fruits in the diet. Consume more water-rich foods like cucumber, muskmelon, etc. as it helps to stay fit. Light meals are preferred in summer.
(The author is a consultant in internal medicine.)