The weather is getting sunnier, the days are getting longer, and the temperature is rising. The hot summer months are upon us, and living in Northern California means they stick around well into the fall. Because you’re exposed to the sun and heat for a good part of the year, it’s important that you take care of yourself and your loved ones. Learn the 3 most important things you can do to protect your health and body.
1. Stay Hydrated
Making sure you drink enough water is the most important thing you can do, especially in the beginning of the warmer temperatures before your body has acclimated to the heat.
There are varying opinions about just exactly how much water you should drink a day, but eight 8-ounce glasses is a good rule of thumb. Even being mildly dehydrated by heat or exercise can have negative effects on your energy and mental performance.
The important thing to pay attention to your body. If you’re thirsty drink a glass of water!
If you want to keep things simple, these guidelines should apply to the majority of people:
- When you’re thirsty, drink.
- When you’re not thirsty anymore, stop.
- During high heat and exercise, make sure to drink enough to compensate for the lost fluids.
2. Wear Sunscreen
Sure, sunscreen is a summer must-have that we usually remember to lather on while we’re on the beach or by the pool, but it should also be part of our daily routine. The sun is a powerful force and a good sunscreen protects you from the sun’s harmful UV rays, premature aging, skin cancer, and sunburn.
But what is a “good” sunscreen? A sunscreen that offers you the best protection against the sun is:
- A broad-spectrum sunscreen – this will protect against both UVA and UVB radiation.
- An SPF of 30 or higher – SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor” which measures the protection against UVB rays.
- A water-resistant sunscreen – the term water-resistant means that you’re protected in the water for up to 40 minutes before you should reapply.
Use sunscreen to protect yourself during the hot summer months and all year long by applying it 15-minutes before you head outdoors, even on cloudy days, and spreading it on all your exposed skin surfaces.
3. Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion
Even though the summer months can be hot, that doesn’t stop us from having fun! Whether it’s playing beach volleyball on vacation, taking a hike on a new trail, swimming all afternoon, sports practice, or a nature day camp, high temperatures combined with strenuous physical activity can lead to heat exhaustion.
Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion may develop suddenly or over time, especially with prolonged periods of exercise. Possible heat exhaustion signs and symptoms include:
- Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
- Heavy sweating
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Low blood pressure upon standing
- Muscle cramps
***It's important to distinguish between heat exhaustion and heatstroke***
Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death. If you think you're experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help.
If you think yourself or someone else is experiencing heat exhaustion, visit The Medical Specialty Center – Your Everyday Health Care Clinic – at Orchard Hospital. Walk-ins are welcome. Open 7 days a week. It’s our goal to have fast and friendly care while delivering quality health care.
Our mission at Orchard Hospital is to provide our community with superior health care. We strive to ensure that your experience at Orchard Hospital is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Our priority is to provide you with the care you need when you need it, with skill, compassion, and respect.