This is hardly a new phenomenon, or a new health crisis the entire medical field is just learning about. If you hadn’t noticed, Ruleville gets hot in the summer. Very hot. Even if you come from a tropical environment like I do, coping with Mississippi summer heat can be a challenge.
Heat and heat related illness can be a serious health hazard that disproportionally affects children and older family members. As we get hot, our body tries to maintain its normal temperature by transferring heat by increasing blood flow to the skin and sweating. Heat related illness occurs when our nervous systems can’t keep up with the changes in temperature to keep our bodies cool.
Young children and babies do not produce sweat as easily as the rest of us, and older adults often have conditions that make it more difficult to transfer heat. If your job requires you work outside in the heat, the results can range from rather simple (heat rash, swelling, cramps, fainting) to much more serious. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious medical emergencies that can be life threatening even with immediate treatment.
Tips for Beating the Summer Heat
Here are some North Sunflower Medical Center tips to help keep your children cool this summer, and beat the summer heat:
- Hydrate! HYDRATE!! The is no better cooling source than good old fashioned water. The recommended daily amount of fluids is 5 glasses for 5 to 8-year-olds; 7 glasses for 9 to 12-year-olds; and 8 to 10 glasses for 13+ years.
- Plan your day around the heat. Instead of gathering together for a movie at night, catch a matinee – in the air-conditioning – during the hottest part of the day. Have them play outside early in the morning or after sunset.
- Eat cold foods during the day, with snacks and meals that don’t require turning on the oven. Salads and fruits are easier to digest than fatty burgers, which makes us feel sluggish. This will not only help keep their bodies cool but help keep your house cooler as well.
- Have them dressed right for the heat. The best way to cool their bodies is to have sweat evaporate directly from skin to air. Wear loose, lightweight clothes in light colors.
- If kids are stuck in the heat and can’t find get to a cooler place, apply ice cubes wrapped in a towel (or any other cold object) to the neck and wrist. This can make their bodies cool down more quickly and effectively.
- Sunscreen is also very important. A zinc containing, PABA free compound is preferred. It should be applied to the skin before going out and it should also be allowed to dry. If you go in the water, you’ll have to reapply. SPF 30 and higher is usually recommended.
- Remember one childhood sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer by 20-40%.
Other Medical Concerns
For older members of your family living with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or being overweight all change the way our bodies cool themselves. Some medications reduce blood flow to the skin or cause us to lose our sense of thirst. If you are taking regular medications ask your doctor if your prescriptions might change the way you deal with heat related illness.
For most kids, being out of school with all day to play with friends makes summer the most fun time of year. Taking just a few simple steps can keep your children safe – and out of the hospital – all through the long, hot days of summer.
Remember, Sunflower Clinic is open EVERYDAY 8 am – midnight. Dr. Ganpot is available Monday – Friday, call (662) 756-1788 for an appointment.