Avoid Heat-Related Illness During a Heat Emergency
CINCINNATI—There’s a heat emergency again in the Tristate—hot, humid and with a smog warning, too. But besides making you uncomfortable, the heat can affect your health—especially for people with certain conditions.
For everyone, the basic tips remain the same: Seek cool, shady areas and stay hydrated.
That’s especially important in the hottest parts of the day, when you should stay in air-conditioning if possible. For those without air-conditioning, the Cincinnati Recreation Commission has "Cool Centers” throughout the city.
If it feels harder to breathe outside, that’s because it probably is, according to UC Health asthma expert Steve Sutton, MD.
"In general, high pollen levels, humidity, heat and pollution can all cause asthma to flare in many asthmatics,” he says. "Asthmatics need to be wise in choosing the time and place for their activities. For instance, exercising in the hottest part of the day or going to Kings Island on a smog alert day are likely to be problematic.”
If you have to be outside, wear sunscreen, loose-fitting and light clothing and drink plenty of water.
"Your go-to drink should always be water,” says UC Health dietitian Kelly Rouse. "For hydration, that’s your best bet.”
Rouse recommends sports drinks only for those pushing through long workouts outside and needing to replace fluids lost through sweating.
If someone stops sweating entirely on very hot days, call 911. It could be a warning sign for heat stroke, the most severe reaction to extreme heat.
In these temperatures, strenuous activities can lead to heat exhaustion or stroke in healthy individuals, says Neal Weintraub, MD, director of the cardiovascular diseases division at UC, making those with heart problems more likely to be affected by heat stress.
"It doesn’t take a lot of exertion for those with heart conditions to become ill during hot weather spells,” he says. Symptoms can be a simple as feeling tired and sweating heavily after mild exertion.
Weintraub says it’s a good idea to check on friends, co-workers and loved ones regularly if their heart condition is serious.
"Taking the proper precautions can significantly reduce chances of suffering from heat-related illness," he adds. "It’s important to know your risks and to pay attention to your body’s warning signs while still enjoying your summer.”