Check out how to take safeguard against the ruthless summer months and keep heat-related health complications at bay.
Elderly people face a lot of difficulties in adjusting with the sudden changes in temperature, which permit a different group of viruses to flourish, and then these viruses make people fall sick. Although we should always take good care of our health in every season, we need to take utmost precaution of our body and health during summer. Disease outbreaks are natural calamities but managing their impact can be controlled. Taking precautions before the onset of a disease enables us to reduce illnesses.
The common cold is a self-limited contagious disease that can be caused by different types of viruses. The common cold is medically referred to as viral upper respiratory tract infection. General practitioner and intensivist Dr Avik Basu advises: “As far as common cold is concerned, it’s mostly spring time or the wet months that pose risk to the elderly. But you never know when these viruses will gain access to your system since they are getting mutated day by day. Moreover, people, who are immunosuppressed (e.g. diabetic patients) are more susceptible to such otherwise benign viruses.”
Though the symptoms vary from individual to individual but the most common are:-
- Sore throat
- Low-grade fever
- Watery eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
Dr Basu says: “I mostly advise people not to lie down below the fan with shirts off even if they are sweating in summer. It’s better to wrap a towel around their body to absorb the sweat. Else, there is a chance to catch cold. Heat stroke or heat exhaustion in summer is more serious than common cold.”
On a note of caution, he says: “Elderly people are at a greater risk to succumb to intense heat since they have a poor thermoregulatory mechanism. They must keep themselves adequately hydrated since heat leads to dehydration. Avoid going outdoors during the peak hours of heat, especially in the afternoon. Avoid drinking ice cold water upon returning from outdoors since the difference in the temperature will eventually choke the throat.”
“Allow your body to rest, get plenty of sleep and avoid strenuous exercise. Head to the doctor if you don’t get relief within two days, or you are wheezing,” adds Dr Basu.
While cold weather means remaining confined indoors, hot weather means more outdoor activities, which can cause allergies to flare. Pollen is a factor that aggravates respiratory problems. People with seasonal allergies often feel congested and develop runny noses and itchy eyes when they are near pollen or grass. Summers are generally high in humidity levels due to which the mould fungi that grow on dead grass and leaves increase in number, which in turn results in various allergies.
“As far as allergy is concerned, two major forms are heat urticaria and prickly heat with the latter being the more common variant. Prickly heat is, otherwise, benign. Heat urticaria, on the other hand, can take virulent forms in susceptible individuals,” says Dr Basu.
Severe dehydration is a common health issue that can lead to bigger problems if proper hydration is not made a priority. As people get older, body water content decreases, also they often experience diminished thirst; which leads to a reduced fluid consumption, causing dehydration very easily.
- General feeling of weakness
- Cramps in legs or arms
*Other symptoms may vary from person to person. Consulting a doctor is always advisable.
Loose motion, diarrhoea, chronic medical conditions like fever and skin rashes among other things are common occurrences every summer. Increase in temperature in summer helps bacteria multiply, thereby increasing the spread of many bacterial infections. Washing hands frequently and properly, careful about drinking water will help to overcome these diseases.
- Have more fruits and vegetables
- Drink prescribed amount of water including lemon water, curd water, stone apple juice, etc
- Avoid oily and spicy food
- Have anti-allergy pills
- Apply sunscreen lotion
- Wear sunglasses, screened hats and scarfs
Photo allergy is yet another form of heat allergy, where the skin may get discoloured and even peel off owing to allergic reaction with ultra-violet (UV) rays. Such cases need to be addressed timely and a dermatologist must be consulted.
Sodium and potassium are two important minerals necessary for body during summer. Sodium can be derived from the salt consumed daily, coconut water, banana and if available, spinach is an important source of potassium.
Regulating lifestyle with minor adjustment and changes in it we can overcome up to large extent these problems. Summer is a beautiful time to enjoy vacations and spend time with family, friends, making memories only if we are healthy. All that we need to do to stay fit is the little awareness and few precautions to enjoy the good times.