Summer is in full swing here in the Midwest, and if you’ve been cooped up inside thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the sunshine is even more enticing. Unfortunately, the heat and humidity that creates a perfect day for a sprinkler can be quite dangerous without the right precautions. Sunburns and heat strokes are dangerous heat-related illnesses that can happen to anyone, whether you’re simply lounging by the pool or working in the garden. Every time you go outside, take action to prevent a sunburn and heat stroke.
Sunburn: causes, symptoms and prevention
Most people have experienced a sunburn at some point in their lives, but that does not mean they aren’t dangerous. A sunburn is caused by overexposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays, and symptoms can begin in as little as 15 minutes. Those who have a sunburn will have red, painful skin, and in extreme cases, may develop blisters or sun poisoning. Although the pain can be somewhat relieved with aloe gels, lotions, and pain relievers, a sunburn increases your risk of developing skin cancer later in life. In the case of a severe burn, you may also experience fever, chills, nausea, or vomiting, which should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible.
Preventing a sunburn is as simple as applying an effective sunscreen. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are a few items to look for when purchasing sunscreen:
- Ensure broad spectrum protection. These products will protect your skin from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
- Go for SPF 30 or higher. The SPF indicates how well the product will protect you. The number means how long it would take for the UV rays to redden the skin when used as directed. For example, an SPF 30 means it would take 30 times longer to get a sunburn than wearing no protection at all. Remember: these only work when you reapply regularly and take regular breaks from the sun.
- Go for products that are water resistant. Products that are water resistant mean they’ll stay on longer when swimming or sweating. Being “resistant” usually indicates protection up to 40 minutes, while “very resistant” is up to 80 minutes, so be sure to reapply regularly.
Heat stroke: causes, symptoms, and prevention
A heat stroke is the most severe heat-related illness that may occur if you are experiencing untreated heat exhaustion. Your body experiences heat exhaustion when your temperature rises to 104 degrees or higher and includes symptoms such as excessive thirst, weakness, heavy sweating, clammy skin, elevated pulse, dizziness, headaches, fainting, and more. If you fail to get to a cool area and hydrate properly, you may develop a heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Absence of sweat
- Elevated body temperature
- Red or hot skin
- Disorientation or confusion
- Loss of consciousness
- Throbbing headache
- Shallow breathing
- Rapid, strong pulse
If you or someone around you is experiencing these symptoms, this is a life-threatening condition that requires emergency medical treatment immediately. A heat stroke could potentially lead to death or permanent disability.
By preventing other heat-related illnesses, you will protect yourself from developing heat stroke. Take all necessary precautions when being out in the heat, such as:
- Schedule your time and activities outside for earlier in the morning when the heat is less intense.
- Try to stay in an air conditioned area as much as possible, particularly during heat waves.
- Always wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Take cool showers.
- Drink more water than you would normally.
- Constantly be hydrating – don’t wait until you feel thirsty to take a drink.
- Pace yourself and slow down when you feel the need.
Keep in mind that the heat will affect each person differently depending on a variety of factors, such as age, weight, certain medications, alcohol intake, and more. While you may feel you can stay in the heat for an extended period of time, friends and loved ones may not, so be mindful during summertime activities.
Help with heat-related illnesses
If you or a loved one is experiencing discomfort from a bad sunburn or other non-emergency, heat-related illness, visit one of our Midwest Express Clinic locations today. We can help treat the pain and symptoms while providing you with prevention solutions so you can enjoy the rest of your summer safely.