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Beating the summer heat: How to stay healthy
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Beating the summer heat: How to stay healthy

Ensuring healthy habits like adequate hydration, consuming citrus fruits and exercising during summer can keep health troubles at bay
Summer heat which can cause health troubles can be prevented by adequate hydration, consuming citrus fruits and exercising
Photo by Anantha Subramanyam K/Happiest Health

With the clear blue skies and the sun shining with all its might, the summer season is officially here. The thought of summer evokes bittersweet emotions in us; while we all love the impromptu trips and gorging on our favourite tropical fruits; the heat and humidity could pose roadblocks in having a healthy summer.

Anant (name changed), a man from Hyderabad was among those who bore the brunt of the summer heat. The 60-year-old had ventured out of his house to deposit cash in a nearby bank, about 500 metres away. Owing to the short distance, he decided to go on foot. After his stroll, he began feeling uneasy. As soon as he stepped inside his house, he fell unconscious.

On being brought to the emergency room, it was observed that his blood pressure levels had plummeted and his pulse had shot up. His body temperature had also risen to 100 F. It was a typical case of sunstroke.

“He was hydrated with intravenous fluids and icepacks were placed on his forehead to cool his body down. He gradually started regaining consciousness and stabilising over the next two hours,” says Dr Sandeep Ghanta, consultant, internal medicine, Citizens Specialty Hospital, Hyderabad, who treated him.

What causes heat stroke in summer?

Heat strokes or sun strokes are commonly seen in summer.

“The hypothalamus acts like a thermostat for the body, regulating the body’s temperature. Continued exposure to extreme heat can halt the functioning of the hypothalamus, causing an elevated body temperature (105 F),” says Dr Shobha Subramanian Itolikar, consultant physician, Fortis Hospital, Mumbai.

She further says, “the heat produced in the body is not dissipated out, and the continued elevation in body heat can lead to a heat stroke.”

According to Dr Mukesh Mehra, director, internal medicine, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Patparganj, Delhi, heat stroke is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

“Heat strokes cause complications like lowered blood pressure, high heart rate, body pain, muscle cramps and can even lead to coma as well as organ damage.”

“Continued exposure to high temperatures, without being hydrated, can put one at risk of sun strokes,” Dr Mehra adds.

Why do we feel tired during the summer?

According to Dr Shobha, dehydration can cause fatigue during summer as we tend to sweat a lot, losing water and salts.

Not sweating enough can also be a cause of fatigue in the summer.

“Sweating is a mechanism by which the body regulates its temperature. When the sweat evaporates, our body cools down. In humid conditions, we are unable to sweat a lot.”

Elaborating further, she says, “this is because the sweat doesn’t evaporate due to high moisture in the air, leading to the body retaining heat. This can also cause lethargy.”

Skin issues during summer

Elaborating on the skin issues, Dr Shobha says that summers could make the skin dry and sticky. The loss of moisture due to heat can cause cracks on the skin, making it irritable and itchy.

Folliculitis (tiny red bumps on the skin) is another issue that happens due to excessive sweating. “The skin gets inflamed due to bacteria infecting the hair follicles and blocking the sweat glands,” says Dr Shobha.

She discourages the excessive use of prickly heat powder to combat folliculitis as it will further block the sweat glands.

“Taking a shower twice a day, once in the morning and evening, in lukewarm or cold water to wash the grime off the body, can help keep the skin healthy,” she adds.

Dr Ghanta sheds light on sun rashes that occur in people sensitive to sunlight.

“These rashes commonly appear in the exposed parts of your body, like the face, neck and arms. Using sunscreen with a suitable SPF is recommended before sun exposure,” Dr Ghanta says.

Food poisoning during summertime

Dr Ghanta also mentions food poisoning as a common occurrence during summer.

“Restaurants tend to store food for long periods. In summer, stored food is a good medium for bacterial and viral growth, if not stored at suitable temperatures or reheated. People consuming such food can present with symptoms like abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea,” he says.

Takeaways

  • Ensuring healthy habits in summer can keep health troubles at bay.
  • Heat strokes, dehydration and food poisoning are the health issues commonly seen during summer.
  • Continued exposure to high temperatures can cause heat strokes.
  • Wearing breathable fabric, ensuring adequate hydration and avoiding restaurant food stored for long periods are some ways to stay healthy during summer

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