Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Beat the heat: Why you need to stay cool

  • Print

With the temperature expected to approach 30 C today and stay relatively high for the long weekend, many Manitobans are taking notice and making plans to enjoy the heat.

That's all good -- most people have been waiting for some hot weather.

Resources

For more information on how heat affects your health:

Beware of the heat

wrha.mb.ca/healthinfo/news/2014/140701-beware-of-the-heat.php

Medications and heat

gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/factsheets/heat_medications.pdf

Heat and your health

gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/environmentalhealth/heat.html

It is also important to remember too much heat can affect your health, causing everything from a mild heat rash to more serious problems such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat-related health issues occur when your body has to work too hard to cool itself. Your body is always trying to maintain a consistent temperature of 37 C. Your brain is like a thermostat, and when the weather gets hotter, your body has responses to lower your internal temperature. This includes an increase of blood flow to your skin to release heat and an increase in the amount you sweat. Overwork the system, through excessive physical activity in hot weather or by getting more sun than you are used to, and problems can arise.

During hot spells, anyone can be felled by the sweltering heat and humidity. But some people are more vulnerable than others. Young children and seniors may have less optimal body responses for staying cool. People with chronic health conditions may also not respond as well to heat. This includes those with heart conditions, chronic kidney disease or diabetes. It also includes people with mental illnesses.

Certain medications can affect the body's ability to adapt to heat. These drugs can undermine the body's ability to cool down or impair the body's ability to recognize when it is hot. They include medications used to treat seizures, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, high blood pressure, cardiac conditions (including angina and arrhythmia) and mental illnesses. If you are taking medication, ask your health-care provider or pharmacist about whether it affects your ability to cope with heat.

Athletes who train outside, outdoor workers, people living alone who are socially isolated and the homeless are also among those who are more vulnerable to heat-related illness.

Heat exhaustion is the most common affliction. It happens when your body loses too much water and salt. Symptoms can include headache, nausea, cramps, pale and clammy skin, dizziness and fainting and rapid breathing and heartbeat.

To alleviate these symptoms, try moving to a cool or shaded place, drink sips of water and lie down and sponge with cool water.

Heat stroke is more serious, and requires immediate medical attention. It occurs when the body's core temperature rises above 40 C. Symptoms may include headache, red, hot and dry skin, dizziness, confusion or strange behaviour, nausea, a rapid and weak pulse and a complete or partial loss of consciousness.

If you see someone experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately. While waiting for help, move the person to a cool place, sponge their body with cold water and fan them. The longer their core body temperature is above 40 C, the greater the chance of permanent effects or even death.

It's very important to take care of yourself and others when it's hot. Not only should you watch your children, make it a point to check on your neighbours and friends, especially older adults living alone, and those with chronic health problems.

Keep an eye on the weather. Check the local temperature and forecast, and pay attention to heat event warnings. If you have an air conditioner, be sure it's working. If you don't, go to places like the mall or community clubs during heat waves that have air conditioning. Plan outdoor activities for the cooler parts of the day, wear a hat, sunscreen and loose, light-coloured clothing when out in the sun. Sunburns also increase risk of heat-related illness.

And, of course, remember to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated will replace the fluid lost when you sweat. Drink before you go outside or start to exercise, as you won't feel thirsty until after you start to dehydrate.

Dr. Heejune Chang is a medical officer of health with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 1, 2014 A19

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

J.P. Vigier’s Whiteboard: Coach Maurice’s first full season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Susan and Gary Harrisonwalk their dog Emma on a peaceful foggy morning in Assiniboine Park – Standup photo– November 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A young goose   reaches for long strands of grass Friday night near McGillvary Blvd-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 19 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you plan on attending any of the CMHR opening weekend events? (select all that apply)

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google