| Tue, Jun 25, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

Medicare Memo: Keep Your Cool During Hot-Weather Activity

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

heat protectionSummer has arrived and you’re eager for some outdoor activity. Not so fast! Along with rising temperatures come the risks of sunburn and heat-related illness.

Summertime temperatures in the south can be especially dangerous. And people living in the north need to remember to take it easy when the weather first turns warm. It can take time for the body to adjust to the heat and humidity. Be careful.

What is a Heat-Related Illness?

A heat-related illness occurs when the body overheats. Normally, the body cools itself when sweat evaporates off the skin. However, on an excessively humid day, sweat will not evaporate fast enough to keep the body cool.  

Other risk factors for heat-related illness may include:

  • Age 65 and over

  • Infants and children up to four years old

  • Being very underweight or overweight

  • High blood pressure and heart, lung or other disease

  • Certain medications, including some diuretics, sedatives and heart and blood pressure medicines

Even people who do not fit into one of the categories above may be at risk. Excessive physical activity or extreme heat can also cause a heat-related illness. It is important to be aware of some warning signs.  

Heat Exhaustion

 

Heat Stroke

  • Ÿ Heavy sweating
 
  • ŸHigh body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Ÿ Paleness
 
  • Ÿ Red, hot, dry skin (no sweating)
  • Ÿ Muscle cramps
 
  • Ÿ Rapid, strong pulse
  • Ÿ Weakness
 
  • Ÿ Throbbing headache
  • Ÿ Dizziness
 
  • Ÿ Dizziness
  • Ÿ Headache
 
  • Ÿ Nausea
  • Ÿ Nausea or vomiting
 
  • Ÿ Confusion
  • Ÿ Fainting
 
  • Ÿ Unconsciousness

 

How to Stay Active and Safe in the Summer Heat

Being physically active in hot weather can be a challenge. Here are a few things you can do to help protect yourself.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Drink a lot of water even if you’re not thirsty, regardless of your activity level.

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine. They act as a diuretic and may dehydrate you.

  • Dress for the weather. Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to help keep the sun off your face and your head cool.

  • Wear sunscreen. Sunburn affects the body’s ability to cool itself. Sunscreen can also help reduce the risk of skin cancer.

  • Plan outdoor activities during the morning or evening hours. If you must be outside during the hottest part of the day, take frequent breaks indoors with air conditioning.

  • Exercise indoors. Walk the mall, join a health club or create a home gym with a set of dumbbells and a stationary bike or treadmill.

If you have questions about your risk of heat-related illness, be sure to talk to your doctor. Keeping safe in the heat is a good topic to discuss during your annual Medicare preventive visit (covered by Medicare Part B). This is especially important if you take medications or have fluid intake restrictions for a health condition.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

 

Resources:

Top 5 Tips to Staying Cool During Your Summer Workout—American Heart Association

How to Stay Active Forever—Article written by Gretchen Reynolds on AARP.org

Extreme Heat: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov)

 

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