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Survive the heat

As summer brings some extremely hot weather, be prepared. During extreme heat it is easy to become dehydrated or for your body to overheat. If this happens, you may develop heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke. Heatstroke is a medical emergency which can result in permanent damage to your vital organs, or even death, if not treated immediately.

Extreme heat can also make existing medical conditions worse. Extreme heat can affect anybody, however, the people most at risk:

  • are aged over 65 years, especially those living alone
  • have a medical condition such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness
  • are taking medications that may affect the way the body reacts to heat such as:
    • allergy medicines (antihistamines)
    • blood pressure and heart medicines (betablockers)
    • seizure medicines (anticonvulsants)
    • water pills (diuretics)
    • antidepressants or antipsychotics.

Strategies for coping with the heat include:

  • drinking plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty (if your doctor normally limits your fluids, check how much to drink during hot weather)
  • keeping yourself cool by using wet towels, putting your feet in cool water and taking cool (not cold) showers
  • blocking out the sun at home during the day by closing curtains and blinds.

For further information about surviving the heat please go to the Better Health Channel website or watch the effects of heat on the body video.

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