Summers overseas can be extremely hot and humid, which can be challenging for visitors who aren’t used to the heat. Or even if you are – say, you’ve come from a tropical country, such as the Philippines, there’s nothing wrong to take ample precaution to prevent the devastating effects of intense heat on the body.
This may not even be about yourself only because Filipinos everywhere in the world work with different age groups, such as children, older people, and other vulnerable populations. That being said, it’s important to know what you must do to care for your body as well as those under your care during hot summer periods in your country. This article will explain how you can stay safe during your visit/stay overseas by avoiding heatstroke and dehydration—two common problems that occur during the season.
What is Heatstroke?
Heatstroke is a serious medical emergency when the body cannot control its temperature. This can happen if a person is exposed to high temperatures, such as during a heat wave or while exercising in hot conditions or during summers overseas. It can also occur when someone loses large amounts of body fluid through sweating, vomiting or diarrhea.
Heatstroke is a life-threatening medical emergency. It occurs when the body’s temperature rises to 104°F (40°C) or higher. Heatstroke can lead to brain damage, kidney failure and even death.
Heatstroke vs Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat illness than heatstroke. You may have a headache, lightheadedness and heavy sweating with heat exhaustion. You might feel weak and sick to your stomach with nausea or vomiting. Your skin may be pale or flushed and feel cool and clammy to the touch. Your pulse may be rapid (above 100 beats per minute) with weak or absent deep chest breathing. If left untreated, these symptoms can worsen and lead to unconsciousness or convulsions in severe cases of heat exhaustion.
Signs of Heatstroke/ Heat Exhaustion
A person experiencing heatstroke/exhaustion may have red, hot and dry skin. He or she may also be confused or unable to answer questions clearly. Symptoms of heatstroke/exhaustion include:
- Heavy sweating that doesn’t cool you off
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle cramps
- Dizziness, weakness or fainting
- Confusion or delirium
- Weakness and fatigue
- Rapid pulse rate and/or weak pulse (low blood pressure)
If a person has symptoms of heatstroke, call for emergency medical help immediately and begin cooling him or her off as soon as possible. Move the person to a cooler place out of direct sunlight. Remove clothing that may have become drenched in sweat. Spray the skin with cool water from a hose or other sprayer (not ice cold). Fan air toward the person’s face while spraying him or her with cool water.
What is Dehydration?
Dehydration is a condition that results when your body loses more water than it takes in. The most common cause of dehydration is inadequate fluid intake. You can become dehydrated if you don’t drink enough fluids while exercising, sweating heavily or living in a hot climate. Dehydration also occurs during periods of diarrhea, and vomiting.
Signs of Dehydration
- Dry mouth and throat
- Fatigue or muscle weakness
- Dark yellow urine (the color of lemonade)
- Little or no urination
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
It’s important to understand the symptoms of dehydration. The more dehydrated you are, the harder it is for your body to function properly.
You can’t tell if you’re dehydrated just by looking at yourself in the mirror. There are no physical signs of dehydration (except for dark urine). Dehydration can occur in anyone, regardless of age or gender.
If you think you might be dehydrated, contact your doctor immediately. Dehydration can be treated with fluids containing electrolytes (sodium, chloride and potassium), which are available over the counter in pharmacies. If you’re having trouble remembering things, it could be a sign of dehydration. The brain uses a lot of water, so if your body is dehydrated, your thinking ability will be affected.
If you’re not drinking enough water, your body will be in a constant state of stress. This can cause changes in hormone levels and blood pressure, which may lead to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Drink plenty of water each day to stay healthy!
How to Prevent Heatstroke and Dehydration
Hydration is the most important defense against heatstroke. When you are active and sweating, or if you have a fever or other illness, your body must compensate for losses in fluids and salts by drinking more water. Drinking plenty of water helps to maintain normal blood pressure and prevent dehydration-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke. For example:
- If you are exercising, drink one cup of room temperature water every 15 minutes during activity (or two cups if it’s very hot outside).
- Drink 2 cups at least 2 hours before exercise to start hydrating your system in advance.
- If you’re sick with a fever or vomiting/diarrhea, increase your intake to 8–10 cups daily until symptoms subside (be sure to discuss this with your doctor).
Use a sunscreen with a high SPF (sun protection factor) to prevent sunburn and long-term damage to your skin. Apply it 15 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours after swimming or sweating. Make sure to cover all exposed areas of your body, including your ears and neck if you’re going to be outside for more than an hour at a time.
Avoid using sunscreen on infants under six months old, as their skin is too sensitive for the chemicals in most sunscreens; use a mineral-based product instead (this will also help protect against dehydration). Also avoid putting any lotions or oils on top of the sunscreen—they can make you more likely to burn!
Be Aware of Contributing Factors
Heatstroke is a serious medical emergency that can result in death. It’s important to be aware of factors that contribute to heatstroke and learn how to prevent it.
- Heatstroke occurs when your body cannot cool down, which causes a rise in body temperature. This usually happens when you are exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time.
Protect yourself from the heat
To prevent heatstroke, you should:
- Wear a hat. Hats help to keep the heat from your head and reduce sweating. You can also wear a bandana around your neck.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Choose clothes that have less material and allow more airflow between them and your skin; for example, cotton shirts absorb moisture better than silk ones do because they allow sweat to evaporate more readily into the air rather than be trapped by its fibers.
- Avoid wearing dark colors like black as they absorb more heat than lighter colors like white or grey which reflect it back out again; this will help you maintain a cooler temperature within your clothing layers regardless of how hot it may be outside!
In conclusion, heatstroke is a critical health concern anywhere in the world, but more so in some places, such as Japan, Europe, and the Middle East. The high temperatures and humidity during summers overseas can be dangerous for anyone who is not prepared for them. By being aware of the weather conditions and taking steps to prevent dehydration or sunburn, it’s possible to avoid heat-related illnesses altogether.