It is so important to stay hydrated in the heat

Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys this morning for Medical Matters. 

It’s important to keep cool in the heat. 

There are two types of heat related maladies — heat exhaustion and heatstroke. 

It’s important to avoid caffeine and alcohol in excessive heat. 

Sommer said, “Water is good.”

Sugar as well can contribute to dehydration.

Sommer said, “A lot of people I think sometimes when you are so hot and you get thirsty, you might want to reach for something with a little bit of flavor. So be careful of the sugar content. Stay away from soda, fruit juices that are high in sugar.”

It’s important to remember to drink even if you aren’t thirsty and heavy meals can add to heat problems. 

Sommer said, “According to George Washington University, they said eating a heavy meal can cause your body heat to rise, causing digestion to create, I guess heat in the body because it’s got to work a little bit harder to break down those rich, heavy meals that you might want to eat. Although when it’s really hot out, I don’t want to eat a heavy meal.”

Look for fruits and vegetables. 

Sommer said, “Watery fruits and vegetables are really good.”

Avoid strenuous activities in the heat. 

Sommer said, “Down here when it’s really hot, you shouldn’t be doing anything outside. If you’re going to do yard work. I would say do it in the morning. When the sun comes up, stay indoors, mostly, especially between 11am and 3pm. It’s usually hottest after 1. So you want to stay indoors and keep cool during that time.” 

Loose fitting and light colored clothing can help, too. 

Sommer said, “It makes sense. I will drive around here when it’s really hot and I see people dressed in all black and I start sweating for them.”

Some medications can accelerate dehydration. 

Sommer said, “Those are your diuretics, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors. Those are the medications like Lisinopril, Captopril, anything that ends in a “pril.” Some other blood pressure medications and even some anti psychotic medication. So if you take those, that doesn’t mean you stop them when it’s hot out. You just need to take extra precautions in times of extreme heat, make sure you stay hydrated. Especially when you’re on a diuretic, because I know you’re removing excess fluid from the body but you still need to put some in.”

Staying indoors is advised. 

Sommer said, “If you don’t need to be outside and you do have a health condition that could the heat could make worse, I know I opt for A/C and just looking at the sunshine from out my window.”

Emissions from vehicles can make it hotter, too. 

Sommer said, “Let me just tell you, I had a nail in my tire the other day and I was sweating a bullet or two putting air in it. I didn’t know I had a nail, but my tire pressure was down to 17 and I’m out there sweating. I’m like, why is it taking so long? And that was at the height of the heat, it was about one o’clock in the afternoon.”

Make sure to stay cool at night, especially if you don’t have air conditioning. 

Sommer said, “Make sure you have fans, air conditioning, a cool shower or bath before you go to bed will help lower your body temperature. So that might be a good idea to do it if you don’t have AC.”

What are some of the heat related illnesses? 

Sommer said, “When it’s hot out and if you have or get or feel what is known as heat cramps, painful muscle spasms that often occur during heavy exercise in hot weather or if you’re outside again, working, doing strenuous activity and you start to feel cramps, you need to stop what you’re doing rest and hydrate. It also says you could apply pressure to stop the spasms but the biggest thing is that you stop what you’re doing and you you try and rehydrate yourself.”

That can escalate to heat exhaustion. 

Sommer said, “Which is heavy sweating, you feel weak, chills, you look pale. You can even have some nausea, or feel like you’re gonna faint and you might have either a rapid heart rate or you feel really tired. That could be a sign of heat exhaustion.”

That can turn into heat stroke, which is incredibly serious. 

Sommer said, “That is when you have a high body temperature over 103 degrees. You’re hot, you’re red in the face and your pulse is racing. That could be a sign of heatstroke. You can even have some erratic behavior. You need to get them some help right away.”