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Senior Watch: Heat Related Illnesses 

Carol Higgins-Taylor was in to talk about heat related illnesses for seniors.

Risk factors form the National Institute on Aging:

Being dehydrated.

Age-related changes to skin – impaired blood circulation and inefficient sweat glands.

Heart, lung and kidney diseases

High blood pressure or other conditions that require changes in diet. For example, people on salt-restricted diets may be at increased risk. However, salt pills should not be used without first consulting a doctor.

Reduced sweating, caused by medications such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers and certain heart and blood pressure drugs.

Taking several drugs for various conditions. It is important, however, to continue to take prescribed medication and discuss possible problems with a physician.

Being substantially overweight or underweight.

Drinking alcoholic beverages.

Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke are not to be taken lightly.

Heat exhaustion

body gets too hot,

Symptoms such as: thirst, confusion, weakness, becoming uncoordinated, and nausea.
Relief:

showering,
bathing or sponging off with cool water,
drinking fluids such as water and juice, and lying down to rest, preferably in a cool place. If you are outside in the sun, find shelter immediately.

Heat exhaustion:

symptoms includes:

A body temperature of 104 degrees,
headache,
faintness,
staggering,
strong rapid pulse,
dry flushed skin,
lack of sweating, and vomiting.

If you or someone else is exhibiting any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Key is to prevent and reduce the risks:

talk to primary care providers your individual risk factors, which might include some medications you may take.

As we age, our bodies’ ability to release heat, by sweating, is blunted making it particularly dangerous for seniors to stay in very warm environments for long periods of time.

To beat the heat, try opening windows at night on opposite sides of the building to create cross ventilation if possible.

During the day, windows, blinds and curtains should be kept closed.

Sit in front of the fan and lightly mist your legs and arms. As the water evaporates, your skin will cool down.

And be careful of overdressing.

Drinking more liquids is vital to avoiding hyperthermia, BUT check with your healthcare provider before changing your normal routine, especially if you have had limits put on your fluid intake or have been prescribed water pills.