Steps You Need to Take When Hot Weather, Humidity Hit
Hot summer days can be dangerous for older adults. If this is you, you’re at higher risk than others for dehydration and heat exhaustion when heat and humidity climb.
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There are two reasons why older adults need to take special care, says geriatrician Ronan Factora, MD.
Many people also take medications that can affect the body’s ability to produce perspiration, Dr. Factora says.
The other reason is that older adults often have less water in their bodies because they often have a diminished ability to perceive thirst and recognize that they are dehydrated, Dr. Factora says. Less water in the body means that even if you do produce perspiration, the small fluid loss can more easily cause or worsen dehydration.
These two factors put older adults at greater risk of heat-related medical conditions that include heat stroke, exhaustion and fatigue.
“What happens with normal aging is that you have less water in your body and you’re more at risk for dehydration, Dr. Factora says. “Also, older adults don’t sweat as much so they are more likely to develop a higher temperature, hyperthermia and heat stroke.”
The best way to avoid a heat-related illness is probably no surprise: Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
“Make sure that you drink at least six to eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day on a regular basis,” Dr. Factora says. “If the temperature is higher or you’re spending a lot of time outdoors or if the air conditioner is not on, you need to pay even closer attention to your water intake to make sure you’re taking in enough fluids.”
To decrease the risk of a heat-related illness:
Most important, Dr. Factora says, is to pay attention to changes in your body related to heat. In particular, watch for:
”If you’re feeling tired, fatigued, or dizzy, it’s time to take a break, sit down, relax and drink some more fluids,” Dr. Factora says. “If there are any signs of confusion, you’re probably overexposed to the heat.”
Some people will become flushed and red because they can’t sweat.
If heat-related symptoms persist, it’s time to seek medical help.