The hot, humid days of summertime are pretty much a given when you live in the Triad Region of North Carolina. Even if it’s not a summer with a record number of days above 90 degrees, there are still plenty of days when the heat index gets hot and the air quality is dangerous for the very young, the elderly, or those with underlying health conditions.
Why Hot Days Affect the Elderly More Acutely
You may have lived in North Carolina all your life, working out in the garden in the middle of July with no worries in your 20s and 30s. But as we age, our bodies have a harder time adjusting to extreme temperature changes. There are a number of factors at play here:
- Older bodies hold more heat than younger ones when the temperature climb
- Your glands don’t release as much sweat, which is the body’s way of regulating temperature
- The heart doesn’t circulate blood as well as you get older, so less heat is released from vessels in the skin
- People with arthritis or respiratory issues might experience flare ups in extreme heat or poor air quality conditions
- Some medications, such as beta blockers, inhibit the body’s ability to regulate to temperature changes
The Dangers of Heat
Being exposed to extreme heat conditions can lead to a variety of health conditions, some very dangerous. You most commonly hear of people suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion presents symptoms of feeling dizzy, weak or uncoordinated. You might also feel nauseous and your skin may feel cold and clammy. If you have these symptoms, it’s recommended to get to a cool place and rest, and drink plenty of water or sports drinks with electrolytes. Avoid drinking tea and caffeinated soft drinks, as these can dehydrate you further.
Heat stroke also has symptoms of acting confused and feeling faint, but in this case people exhibit body temperatures above 104 degrees. Also, you will not be sweating, and often have flushed skin. Call a doctor immediately if you’re suffering signs of heat stroke.
Tips to Stay Cool this Summer
The best way to take care of yourself and avoid heat-related illnesses is to stay hydrated during the summer months and avoid outdoor activity in the middle of the day when temperatures are the most extreme. Here are a few tips to keep cool:
Stay in air conditioning as much as possible. If you don’t have air conditioning at your house, visit the mall, a coffee shop, the library, or another indoor place where you can cool off for a few hours.
Wear light weight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.
Clothes should be made of natural fibers, like cotton, rather than synthetics such as polyester.
Take cool showers
When you do go outside, be sure to wear sunglasses and sunscreen of at least SPF to protect your skin and eyes from the sun’s damaging rays.
Extreme heat can be just as dangerous as the cold weather of winter. Make sure to check on your friends and loved ones regularly during our hot days. If you have a loved one who might need
extra attention, call us at Piedmont Home Care. Our staff is professionally trained and provides compassionate care for all types of respite care needs.