Monday, July 2, 2012

Handling the Summer Heat

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In light of this weekend's soaring temperatures, it is vital that everyone take the proper precautions when dealing with the increasingly hot temperatures of the Carolinas. Certain medical conditions like MS (psuedo)exacerbations can become increasingly prevalent in higher temperatures. Therefore, it is important to take preventative measures to keep the body cool and body temperatures stable. Listed below are a few guidelines to help you stay healthy and cool throughout the summer months:

1. DHHS recommends spending an increased amount of time in air conditioned areas.
The most highly recommended protectant against heat related illness is air conditioning. Before temperatures become unbearably hot, make sure your air conditioning system is in full working condition. Many air condition repair companies become increasingly busy in the summer months, so it is vital to plan service calls ahead of emergency. If your residence does not have an operational air condition system take advantage of public areas such as malls and public libraries.

2. Remember to listen to the local news and weather stations to find out the latest about heat conditions in your area.
You can also contact the Department of Health directly for health and safety updates via their website or by phone if you do not have internet access readily available.

3. Remember to drink a lot of fluids.
It is a common misconception that we only need water while doing aerobic activity. However, fluids are necessary regardless of activity level. “Don't wait until thirsty to drink.”

4. Wear the proper clothing and sunscreen when going outdoors.
It is important to wear loose-fitting and lightweight clothing. Try to avoid wearing darker colors that absorb heat faster. Additionally, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses can protect one’s eyes from the sun’s rays. Aside from being painful and unpleasant, sunburn can hinder the body’s ability to cool itself. Therefore, sunscreen should be applied before going outdoors and reapplied as the packaging indicates to avoid sunburn.

5. Schedule outdoor activities at cooler times of the day.
Try to schedule strenuous outdoor activity during the morning or evening hours. The sun is hottest during the midday and early afternoon hours, therefore try to avoid activity during this time. When exercising outdoors make sure there are shady locations nearby to take frequent rest.

And, above all else...

6. Know your body. Pace yourself. Use your better judgment.
It is most important to know your body’s limits and pace your levels of activity. When you start to feel light-headed it is important to seek cooler temperatures and intake fluids. But most importantly, use your better judgement. For example, don’t eat hot foods when it is hot outside, it will raise your body temperature. Your body gives you signals prior to heat illness, it is important that you listen to your body.

For more information on this topic, visit the NMSS page on "Heat and Temperature Sensitivity," here.
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