Ready for the heat?
The word ‘summer’ evokes many pleasant things: holidays, terraces, beach, leisure,… cheerfulness,…..
In tropical countries they think differently about this and associate the sun with drought, thirst and fatigue. Unfortunately, we were also allowed to experience that, will we have another heat wave? What does that do to our body? How can we protect ourselves? Who is most affected by heat? What medicines can pose risks if the temperature rises too high? And how do you best store your medication in heat?
THE SUN FRIEND OR FOE?
Regularly exposing yourself briefly and protected to the sun is healthy for you, partly because it stimulates the production of vitamin D (necessary for healthy bones and muscles) in your body. So feel free to go for an hour of walking or cycling in the sun regularly! However, the sun can also bring heat with it. Due to global warming, a further rise in temperature is expected in the course of this century: the number of warm days will therefore increase and the chance of heat waves will increase. What does heat do to our body? Our body temperature hovers around 37 degrees. That temperature is regulated by our brain, via the hypothalamus. When it’s hot and our body temperature rises too much, the hypothalamus lowers it again. This happens in two ways: heat makes us sweat and when the sweat evaporates, our body cools moisture and salts, which increases the risk of dehydration. So you should drink plenty of water in hot weather. The heat causes the blood vessels in your home to open up more. That is also the reason why you get a red head when you exercise because the blood vessels dilate, the heart can pump more blood, and blood gives off heat through the skin. In warm weather, your heart has to work harder.
WHAT IS A HEAT WAVE?
A substance created by sunlight acting on nitrogen oxides and other volatile organic compounds in the air. At high concentrations, ozone is irritating to the respiratory system. The deeper and faster we breathe, the greater the exposure to ozone. That is why strenuous outdoor activities are not recommended during the hours with the highest ozone concentration (12-22 hours).
The higher the outside temperature and the longer the heat period, the more people will be affected by the heat. This is reinforced by sleep deprivation as a result of the high temperatures at night, so that people do not recover.
Prolonged heat can lead to all kinds of complaints: headache, nausea, diarrhoea, fainting, but also serious breathing problems, heart failure or even coma. Especially vulnerable groups and people who take certain medicines (see below) should pay extra attention during a heat wave.
PROTECTING VULNERABLE PEOPLE FROM THE HEAT
Some people run an extra risk of health problems with heat.
Who should we be extra vigilant about?
Older people, from the age of 75, are more at risk during a heat wave. The elderly sweat less well. In addition, they often drink too little because they have a reduced thirst or do not think about drinking. In addition, their hearts or lungs tend to work less vigorously and they often suffer from a chronic illness.
Infants and very young children can become dehydrated more easily. In infants, the body is not yet able to regulate body temperature very well, especially in preterm infants. Babies also have a hard time expressing their thirst.
In people with a chronic illness such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, heat can lead to serious complaints. People with chronic lung disease such as asthma or COPD are also more at risk, especially if there is a high ozone concentration.
People with kidney disease are at high risk for dehydration. Chronically ill people also take medication. This can further increase the harmful effects of the heat.
Tips that protect against heat
To dissipate heat, you must be able to sweat. There must be enough fluid in the body for that. Drinking extra is therefore the message! Drink at least 1.5 liters per day on hot days. Drink small amounts regularly: water, milk, coffee or tea without sugar, or sugar-free (soft) drinks.
BE ECONOMICAL WITH ALCOHOL
Alcohol acts as a diuretic. You realize that because you have to urinate regularly after drinking a lot of alcohol, don’t you feel like alcoholic drinks? Then alternate it regularly with a glass of water.
You can tell by the color of your urine whether you’ve had enough to drink. If your urine is clear or sky yellow, you have drunk enough. Is your urine dark or urinate less than usual? Then drink more and don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Especially when you are older, your thirst is often less!
Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water and vitamins. Eat light meals that are easy to digest, which require less energy from your body. Note: Food spoils faster in hot weather. Eating spoiled food can cause diarrhea and loss of extra fluids.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE SUN
Find the shade, cover your skin and head from the sun, protect your eyes with sunglasses. And apply yourself regularly!
Adapt to the extreme heat: cool down, exercise more, stay out of the sun. In warmer countries, the health risk from heat is lower, because people there adapt better to the heat.
KEEP YOUR HOME COOL Darken your windows, eg with aluminum foil, to prevent it from getting too hot inside.