Temperature increase is one of the causes of illness and death due to weather conditions. It can cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases. Hot weather may not affect everyone’s health equally. Sensitive people most affected by hot weather are heart patients, people with other chronic diseases, children and the elderly, athletes, people with mental illnesses and the elderly.
Outdoor air temperature is not the only factor; there is also the perceived temperature, which is associated with the humidity of the air. The perceived heat increases with an increase in humidity. Depending on the changing outdoor temperature, various heat regulation mechanisms in our bodies become active to prevent changes in body temperature. Sweating and the evaporation of sweat lead to heat loss from the body. The dilation of subcutaneous blood vessels increases blood circulation in the skin, facilitating the reduction of body temperature. This leads to a decrease in blood pressure and an increase in pulse rate. To balance body temperature, the heart, pumping blood to subcutaneous blood vessels, bears an increased load, resulting in a faster heartbeat.
Heart failure indicates a problem in the heart’s ability to pump a sufficient amount of blood to the organs. Heart diseases and diabetes can cause heart failure. These patients are treated with medication, special treatments, and lifestyle changes. Complaints of heart failure increase in hot weather. Hot weather can lead to a heart attack and other heart diseases. Hot weather increases the body’s thermal stress, and the physiological responses associated with cell damage and inflammation respond to thermal stress, exacerbating heart failure.
In some heart patients, there is no increase in heart rate due to heart disease or the use of drugs such as beta-blockers; this condition negatively affects heat loss from the body. Diuretic drugs used can easily lead to dehydration. Drinking plenty of water in hot weather can also increase heart failure in patients with heart failure. Hypertensive patients reducing salt intake can facilitate heat strokes. In diabetics, dehydration due to high blood glucose levels can prevent normal sweating. Many patients may not realize that they are dehydrated and may not drink water. In obese individuals, the normal cooling system of the body may not function properly, adding an extra burden to the heart. Hot and humid air is not good for asthma patients, as irritants and allergens in these conditions can exacerbate asthma. Some medications used in asthma treatment can also inhibit the body’s reaction to heat.
The mildest discomfort caused by high temperatures is heat fatigue. It is associated with water and salt loss through sweating. Symptoms include headache, excessive sweating, cold and moist skin, trembling, dizziness, weakness, rapid and weak pulse, muscle cramps, rapid and shallow breathing, nausea, and vomiting. It is common in individuals doing heavy work or exercising in high temperatures. In this case, the patient should be moved to a cool or shaded place, clothing should be removed, and they should be rested until the complaints are relieved. A cold shower can be taken, and efforts should be made to ensure adequate fluid intake. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks that contribute to fluid loss. If symptoms persist for more than an hour, seek medical attention. Heatstroke is a more serious condition; body temperature rises above 39°C, the skin is dry, hot, and red. There is throbbing headache, a rapid pulse, nausea, dizziness, and loss of consciousness. Vomiting and involuntary movements may occur. The patient should be placed in a cool environment, body cooling techniques such as applying ice or wet towels should be used, and they should be urgently taken to the hospital.
How to live in summer?
*To reduce the impact of heat on us; drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration before, during, and after activities.
*For sun protection, use wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and protective sunscreens. Avoid strenuous activities during the peak hours when the sun’s rays are strong.
*Wear light, thin, and light-colored clothing, and prefer breathable cotton fabrics. Use thin clothing for the evaporation of sweat rather than sweating. Choose comfortable shoes and socks, let your feet ventilate well, and use foot powders and antiperspirants if necessary.
*In the summer months, exercise can be done in the morning and evening when the sun’s rays are minimal. In high heat and humidity conditions, reduce the intensity and duration of exercise.
To acclimate to the heat, gradually increase the time spent outdoors. Regular physical activity should be taken indoors and maintained. Exercising with a friend or family member is always safer and more enjoyable.
*If you have heart disease, are over 50, or overweight, consult your doctor for special precautions in hot weather. Some heart medications, such as beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, diuretics, and calcium channel blockers, can alter the body’s response to heat. Tranquilizers and anticholinergics are medications that increase the risk of heatstroke. Even if they do not take medication, the elderly should be cautious. If you are over 50, you may not be aware of your thirst; even if you don’t feel thirsty when you go out, it is beneficial to drink water.
Do not go out during the hottest time of the day, between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM.
You can perform your daily tasks in the early morning before the temperature rises. To reduce going out in hot weather, obtain your needs such as medicine, food, and drinks in advance, keep plenty of drinking water at home, and avoid heavy, high-calorie foods.
Keep ice in the freezer,
Check the ventilation of the house,
Prevent unnecessary windows from staying open, close windows with light-colored curtains where the sun comes in; dark curtains absorb heat and increase the temperature of the room.
Sit in a room located in the east or south of the house using a fan or air conditioner. Have the air conditioners checked and serviced.
You can spend your day in cool places such as shopping malls, libraries, and cinemas. Check the weather, and if you have travel plans, check the weather conditions of the destination.
Wishing you a healthy summer…
Did you know?
*In air-conditioned environments, the room temperature should not be lowered below 25 degrees Celsius.
*Mountain tourism at altitudes above 2000 meters is not beneficial for the health of heart patients. It should be lived at lower levels.
*To cool down, take a shower with warm water, not icy cold water.
*Hot weather can cause depression.
*Interrupting regular exercise in hot summer weather is not correct; 4-6 weeks of inactivity eliminates the acquired beneficial effects of exercise.
*The feeling of thirst is not a reliable indicator of the need to drink water. If the color of the urine is light and clear, hydration is good; if it is dark, dehydration is present. Even if you sit without exercising in hot and humid weather, you still need water.