We wondered if winter was ever going to end, but that is a distant memory as we begin to deal with these hot and humid days that this summer will afford. I am glad that we got to enjoy a little bit of spring before the humidity arrived. With this change in the weather, we must prepare our bodies for the effects of these conditions. A lack of preparation will land you or I in the bed or in a hospital.
So, what do I mean by preparing for hot and humid weather? The first and most important thing is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. In order to properly hydrate, you must drink plenty of water, a minimum of eight ounces each hour. Gatorade and Powerade are good, but cannot be a replacement for water. An indication of proper hydration is that you are regularly urinating, and the urine is clear and light yellow. The symptoms of heat exhaustion or dehydration is sweating, possible heat cramps, headache, stomach ache, lower back pain, probably originating from the kidneys, nausea, vomiting and possibly even fever. Once you become dehydrated, it is difficult, at best, to return to a state of homeostasis or normal. Soft drinks and coffee are not helpful in warding off heat-related illnesses.
Another means of preparation for heat and humidity is plenty of rest. With the body properly hydrated, now you need to ensure that you get adequate rest before you subject your body to extreme conditions. A lack of rest can serve as a precursor to a shorter time necessary for the heat and humidity to adversely affect your body. Again, there are numerous triggers that will cause a person to experience a heat-related illness.
An indication that we are handling the heat and humidity is our ability to sweat. Sweating cools our bodies by means of evaporation. If we are wearing clothing that does not breathe, then we might be sweating, but evaporation is not occurring. Keep in mind that we are losing fluid by sweating, and need to replace it. Proper hydration, prior to an event, will help to ensure that we are sufficiently preloaded. We must continue to hydrate throughout these hot and humid days. If, at some point, we begin to feel overheated or nauseated, we need to stop what we are doing and get to an area where we can cool down. If, at any point, we stop sweating, when we should be, then we must seek medical attention immediately. This is a true medical emergency, known as heat stroke.
While I am on this subject, I must address people who leave children or pets in their vehicles, while they go into a store or wherever they go. Temperatures inside of vehicles can easily reach 120-150 degrees Fahrenheit. This will cause people and animals to literally cook. Those people most vulnerable are young children and the elderly. Please, please, please do not leave your child or your pet in a vehicle on a hot and humid day, or any day for that matter. We have seen far too many times when a child or an animal has died from this scenario.
The bottom line is that you must prepare yourself ahead of time, if you expect to be able to tolerate the heat. Proper daily hydration is vital. Getting behind is like getting behind pain. Once a heat-related illness strikes, it is hard to get ahead of it. Enjoy your summer, but take care of yourself in the process.