Tips for older adults to combat heat-related illnesses
As we age, our ability to adequately respond to summer heat can come to a serious problem. The national institute of aging (NIA), part of the national institutes of health, ad some advice for helping older people avoid heat-related illnesses, known collectively as hyperthermia, during the summer months. Below mentioned are some of the Tips for older adults to combat heat-related illnesses.
Health-related factors that may increase risk include:
- Age-related changes to the skin such as poor blood circulation and inefficient sweat glands.
- Heart, lung and kidney diseases, as well as any illness that causes general weakness or fever.
- High blood pressure or other conditions that require changes in diet. For example, people on salt-restricted diets may increase their risk. However, salt pills should not be used without first consulting a doctor.
- The inability to perspire caused by medications such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, and certain heart and blood pressure drugs.
- Taking several drugs for various conditions. It is important, however, to continue to take prescribed medication and discuss the possible problem with a physician.
- Being substantially overweight or underweight
- Drinking alcoholic beverages
- Being dehydrated
Older people, particularly those at special risk, should stay indoors on particularly hot and humid days, especially when there is an air pollution alert in effect. People without fans or air conditioner should go to places such as shopping malls, movie theatres, libraries or cooling centers which are often provided by the government in many communities. Heat stroke is an advanced form of hyperthermia that occurs when the body is overwhelmed by heat and unable to control its temperature. Someone with a body temperature above 104 degrees is likely suffering from heat stroke and may have symptoms of confusion, combativeness, strong rapid pulse, lack of sweating, dry flushed skin, faintness, staggering, possible delirium or coma. Seek immediate medical attention for a person with any of these symptoms, especially an older adult.
If you suspect that someone is suffering from a heat-related illness:
- Get the person out of the sun and into an air-conditioned or another cool place.
- Offer fluids such as water, fruit and vegetable juices, but avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Encourage the individual to shower, bathe or sponge off with cool water
- Apply a cold, wet cloth to the wrists, neck, armpits and/or groin, places where blood passes close to the surface and the cold cloths can help cool the blood.
- Urge the person to lie down and rest, preferably in a cool place.