Viet Nam News
By Dr. Mathieu Nalpas*
As the thermometer climbs and we rapidly morph out of winter into summer, all of us need to remind ourselves about what we need to do to stay healthy in the summer heat.
The danger for some is heat exhaustion, which is a condition whose symptoms may include weakness, headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting and rapid heart beat. All of this is a result of your body overheating. Causes of heat exhaustion include exposure to high temperatures, high humidity and strenuous physical activity (golfing!).
Without prompt treatment it may become a life-threatening condition. In hot weather, your body cools itself mainly by sweating. Evaporation of sweat lowers body temperature. However, when you exercise strenuously especially in hot, humid weather, your body is less able to cool itself efficiently. If you suspect a heat-related illness, stop exercising and get out of the heat.
Treatment: In most cases, you can treat heat exhaustion yourself by doing the following:
Rest in a cool place. Get to an air-conditioned building or at the least, find a shady spot. Rest on your back with your legs elevated higher than your heart level.
Drink cool fluids. Stick to water or sports drinks (Gatorade). These (sports) drinks can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating. Don’t drink any beverages that have alcohol or caffeine which can promote fluid loss. Your body’s ability to sweat and cool down depends on adequate rehydration. Drink plenty of water while you’re working out — even if you don’t feel thirsty
Apply cool water to your skin. If possible, take a cool shower, sponge down or soak in a cool bath.
Loosen clothing. Remove any tight unnecessary clothing.
Contact your doctor if your signs or symptoms worsen or if they don’t improve within 30 minutes.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Dark or tight clothing holds in heat and doesn’t let your body cool properly because it inhibits sweat evaporation.
Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing promotes sweat evaporation and cooling by letting more air pass over your body.
Avoid the midday sun: Wear a lightweight, wide-brimmed hat. Use an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun. Apply sunscreen to exposed skin. Exercise in the morning or evening — when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors — rather than the middle of the day
Drink plenty of fluids: Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty!
Slow and Easy: If you’re used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first. As your body adapts to the heat, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts. If you have a chronic medical condition or take medication, ask your doctor if you need to take additional precautions. — Family Medical Practice Vietnam
* Doctor Mathieu Nalpas works as a General Practitioner at Family Medical Practice Hanoi - a branch of Family Medical Practice Vietnam.
For more advice on any medical topic, visit Family Medical Practice Hanoi on 298 I Kim Mã, Ba Đình. Tel: (04) 3843 0748. E: email@example.com.
FMP’s downtown Ho Chi Minh is at Diamond Plaza, 34 Lê Duẩn, District 1; 95 Thảo Điền Street, District 2. Tel: (08) 38227848. E:firstname.lastname@example.org
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