Central Florida Health Care Reminds You to Think Before the Heat!

By Central Florida Health News

The Florida heat poses a significant challenge, especially for those who cannot avoid outdoor activities. Seniors are more vulnerable, as their bodies may overheat more rapidly than they realize. This is a situation that demands our utmost attention and care, as we empathize with their increased risk.

Central Florida Health Care APRN Evan Mae Lachica says heat exhaustion often proceeds to heatstroke. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, heat-related deaths are increasing. More than 2,000 people died due to heat-related illnesses in 2023.

Heat stroke, the most severe form of heat-related illness, is a condition where the body’s temperature regulation system fails. The body’s temperature can skyrocket to 106°F or higher within a mere 10 to 15 minutes. This rapid rise in temperature can lead to confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech, loss of consciousness (coma), hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, seizures, and very high body temperature.

Heat exhaustion, a precursor to heat stroke, is often signaled by excessive sweating, a response to the body’s excessive loss of water and salt. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature, and decreased urine output. This condition is particularly concerning for seniors, who may not only have underlying health issues but also a decreased ability to perceive temperature. Individuals with high blood pressure and those working in hot environments are also at risk.

While it might be hard to avoid the outdoors, here’s what you need to do to prevent heat related illnesses.

~ Drink plenty of liquids, such as water, fruit or vegetable juices, or drinks that contain electrolytes. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages.

~ Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Natural fabrics such as cotton may feel cooler than synthetic fibers.

~ Avoid outdoor exercising and other physical activity. Instead, try to find someplace you can be active while staying cool indoors.

~ If you must go outside, try to limit your time out and avoid crowded places. Plan trips during non-rush-hour times.

~ Make sure to use a sunscreen SPF 15 or higher and reapply it throughout the day. Wear a hat, protective clothing, and sunglasses. If you do get sunburned, stay out of the sun until your skin is healed and use cool cloths and moisturizers to treat the affected area.

~ If you live in a home without air conditioning or fans, try to keep your space as cool as possible. Limit use of the oven, keep shades, blinds, or curtains closed during the hottest part of the day and open windows at night.

~ If your living space is hot, try to spend time during midday in a place that has air conditioning. For example, go to the mall, movies, library, senior center, or a friend’s home.

Lachica says to remember to act and provide first aid if someone is experiencing a heat-related illness. Call 911 for emergency medical care and stay with the individual until they arrive. Cooling the body as quickly as possible is the most important thing, not simply drinking water. Move the individual to a shaded, cool area and remove outer clothing. Circulate the air around the worker to speed cooling. Implement cooling measures such as wetting the skin, placing cold, wet cloths, or ice on the skin (head, neck, armpits, and groin), and soaking clothing with cool water.

This summer, another thing to look out for is preventive measures to prevent ear pain, especially for children. Try to keep ears as dry as possible. Use a bathing cap, earplugs, or custom-fitted swim mold when swimming. Make sure to dry your ears thoroughly after swimming or showering and tilt your head back and forth so that each ear faces down to allow water to drain out of the ear canal. Pull your earlobe in different directions to help the water drain out when the ear faces down. If water remains, you can use a hair dryer on the lowest heat several inches from the head. Remember, don’t put objects in the ear canal, including cotton-tip swabs, pencils, paperclips, or keys.

Central Florida Health Care wants you to stay safe and healthy in this summer, and we’re here to help you with any of your healthcare needs.