It's official: Winter is far enough behind us that we can put in storage the coats, hats, gloves, scarves and boots we thought we would never be rid of this spring. Many people said they would be so happy to see winter gone that they would not complain about the heat of summer. You may have heard a few complaints. And you may have heard folks say how delightful these mild spring days are.
The sun is warm and it's June. We expect to see more sunshine. But be aware, some health conditions and some medications may require a little extra attention. Some medications may put you at risk of heat-related illness because them affect the body so that it doesn't realize when it is overheated.
OhioMHAS (Mental Health and Addictive Services) advises, "Although anyone can be affected by heat-related issues, the elderly, the very young and individuals with medical problems including those with psychiatric disorders and addictions are especially susceptible."
The agency recommends that emergency preparations plans be made before a crisis develops. An advisory was sent out to medical facilities who treat illness but the advice is clearly as important for those who are caregivers at home. Ohio MHAS medical director Mark A. Hurst, M.D. recommends what you should include in your emergency preparedness plan.
Monitor the weather.
Check on those with risk of heat-related illness every couple of days when the temperature exceeds 85 degrees or when humidity is very high. If the temperature shoots above 90 degrees, check on them more often.
Provide a cool environment during heat emergencies, and plenty of cool non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic drinks.
Encourage wearing lighter clothing.
During high heat and humidity it is best not to be active.
Risk factors for heat-related illness include chronic medical conditions, especially heart disease or high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, alcohol use, psychotropic medication usage. Warning signs for heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness or fainting; weakness, dizziness, headache; and nausea, vomiting.
What should you do?
Move the person to a cooler place out of direct sunlight. They should drink water or some other cool beverage. Loosen or remove clothing and rest for a bit. Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge-bath.
Heat-related illness can result in death if it isn't treated. It can occur when you are playing, resting or working. It may occur without warning. It may not last long at all. When it happens, call the doctor. During heat emergencies, drink more cool liquids. If you are on prescription medications and you aren't sure about the mix of medications and heat, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Street drugs also can affect the way your body responds to heat-decreasing awareness of heat-related illness. You may not know you are in any danger.
Enjoy the last days of spring and the summer ahead with good health and well being.
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