To Your Health
By staff at the Whistler Health Care Centre
Summer glorious summer, the heat and the bright sunny days bring everyone outside to play and work.
But every summer the sunny weather brings a stream of unhappy people to the health care centres and doctors offices. Some common complaints are sun burns, heat illnesses and insect bites. Simple preventative actions and knowing how to treat these problems will save you a trip to see the doctor.
Under normal circumstances your body produces heat from the work it is doing. Strenuous physical activity increases the body's heat production. Heat from the sun adds to the body's own heat production to raise the body's temperature.
Your body regulates these temperature gains in several different ways, the primary way is by evaporation of water in the form of sweat. When heat production exceeds heat dispersion, a heat illness can occur. Let's face it, most of us are not used to hot weather and every year we need to let our bodies acclimatize to the heat. Some of the things that prevent the body from dispersing heat are dehydration, improper clothing, skin diseases such as large sun burns and heat rashes, extremes of age, obesity, cardiovascular disease and drugs.
General prevention: Try and stay cool, if you feel you are getting too hot move in to the shade. Drink plenty of fluids, most importantly water, (sorry, this does not include alcoholic beverages), if you are exercising make sure your fluids include an electrolyte solution such as Gatorade or Powerade. Wear loose fitting, light clothing.
Heat rash: This is an itchy red rash caused by blockage of the sweat pores. Avoid situations that make you sweaty, (stay cool!). The itching can be treated with lotions such as calamine and antihistamines, (ask your Pharmacist to recommend one for you).
Heat Exhaustion: Has many symptoms including dizziness, weakness, lightheadness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, headache, a feeling of unwellness and aching body. The person's temperature can range from normal to 40C, (104 F). Treatment is removal to a cool place, rest, and drinking plenty of fluid, including electrolyte solutions.
Heat Stroke: is like heat exhaustion with two important differences, temperature and behaviour. People with heat stroke have temperatures 40.5C (105 F). The person may have changes in behaviour such as irritability or combativeness, they may demonstrate bizarre behaviours, or faint. These patients need to be removed from the heat and cooled until they can be transported to the hospital.
When you are out in the sun, it doesn't take long to burn, especially on reflective surfaces such as the water or the snow.
Prevention: Wear a hat with a brim, it will protect your face, neck, ears and scalp. Apply sunscreen, SPF 15 or higher, frequently and liberally. Protect your eyes with good quality sunglasses.
Sunburn: For mild to moderate sun burn, take cool baths or use compresses, followed by the application of one of the available burn preparations found in the drug store. If there is swelling from the burn, anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen will help. Burns covering a large area, with lots of blistering should be seen by a doctor.
Eye irritation: Too much glare from sunlight, direct or reflected, can damage the surface structure and lens of the eye. The eyes will feel irritated, scratchy and will be very sensitive to light. Follow up with your doctor. A good quality pair of sunglasses, which block ultraviolet radiation, should prevent this.