Avoid heat-related emergency room visits

Receiving proper amounts of sunshine is healthy. Our body produces vitamin D from sunlight helping to fight off diseases, prevent depression, strengthen our bones, and boost weight loss. When it comes to enjoying the warm weather, especially the sunshine, it’s important to stay safe. The emergency department at UP Health System – Portage often sees patients with preventable sun related emergencies.

When winter is over and we are finally able to go outside, it’s easy to forget how quickly our skin becomes sunburnt. It’s not uncommon to see second-degree burns from the sun in the emergency department. Allowing time for our skin to adjust to increased sun exposure will help cut down on sunburn. Wearing proper sunscreen, SPF 30 or better, is highly recommended.

Everyone needs water to survive, so don’t forget to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is extremely important in the heat to prevent dehydration. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, and increased thirst. Drink plenty of water whenever you’re in the sun or beginning to feel hot. Preventing dehydration is easy, but it’s often overlooked.

Heatstroke happens when your body’s core temperature rises above 104 degrees. Individuals suffering from heat stroke will often have confusion, headaches, stop sweating, stop salivating, and even lose consciousness.

Although heatstroke due to exposure to hot environments most commonly happens in older adults, anyone exercising or working in hot weather for prolonged periods can suffer from heatstroke due to the strenuous activities. Wearing too much clothing, consuming alcohol, and becoming dehydrated are some causes of heatstroke.

To prevent heat/sun related health issues, take a few things into consideration. If you are currently taking medication, pay extra attention if they recommend drinking more water. Always consider having proper amounts of shade when outside. Rest as often as you can. Use SPF 30 or better sunscreen and reapply as recommended, especially after swimming.

Remember to stay hydrated.

If someone appears to be suffering from heatstroke, dial 911. The experts at UP Health System – Portage’s Emergency Department are trained to help anyone with heat-related illnesses. Don’t hesitate seeking help. In heat related illnesses, time does matter.

Dawn Nulf is a medical doctor at UP Health System-Portage hospital.

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