When you’re out and about pursuing outdoor activities during the summer, you may feel a variety of different symptoms caused by excessive heat exposure. Some examples include heat exhaustion, cramps, severe headaches and sometimes a heat stroke. So, what exactly is the difference between all these heat-related illnesses?
Heat exhaustion is caused when the body loses a lot of fluids and sodium through sweating. You usually see this when exercising outdoors during the summer months.
Heat cramps are very similar to heat exhaustion but occur when there is an excessive loss of potassium and other minerals.
Heat stroke occurs when your body has been exposed to heat for long periods of time and has completely lost the ability to cool itself. It is a life-threatening condition and needs to be treated immediately.
Any of these conditions can cause debilitating headaches, so watch out for that as well.
Here are five tips that can help you avoid heat-related illnesses:
- Make sure to stay hydrated when you’re outside exercising or working in the yard. Stick to water and sports drinks that can help replenish sodium and potassium. You’ll want to stay away from coffee, tea and sodas, which contain caffeine and can dehydrate you.
- Schedule your vigorous outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day. Properly warm up before exercising and cool down afterwards. Also, during your warm-weather workout, be sure to take frequent rest breaks in a shaded area.
- Slowly build up the amount of time you spend outside to get used to the heat. On really hot or humid days, try to spend as much time inside as possible.
- Try wearing light-colored clothing that is loose fitting and tightly woven. If you’re exercising in the heat, there are several garments for runners and cyclists that are designed to wick moisture away from your body to help you cool down.
- Stay protected from the sun by wearing hats and sunglasses when you can. And, don’t forget the sunscreen.
If you begin to feel ill while out in the sun, don’t brush it off. Be aware of how you are feeling and when to take action.