Jul 22, 2013
By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy
Dad I've seen this Scooby Doo movie lots of times, but I don' t remember lots of it. Anything Scooby Doo is popular in our house. My son Eric loves Scooby Doo. Even before he could read, he could get on YouTube and find Scooby Doo cartoons. But Eric isnt big on remembering the finer plot details. Maybe this non- attention to detail is hereditary. Ive been known to let a few obvious details slip by me. Like the fact that summer in Manitoba gets hot.
A few years ago, I was volunteering at Country Fest and working at the Kinsmen Bar. It wasnt that hot out, maybe 25 C. The work area was shaded and I was allowed to take breaks. Apparently, I didnt take enough of them, and didnt consume enough fluids. At the end of my shift I was dizzy, and nauseous. What was wrong with me? What did I do? First, lets talk about different heat disorders. Having your body get too hot is dangerous. To see how heat leaves the body, lets go back to high school physics.
It takes energy for water to go from a liquid state to a vapour. When the thin film of perspiration on your skin changes into water vapour, it takes heat energy away from your body and you cool down. Heat loss through perspiration accounts for about 30% of the bodys heat loss. This is why you feel much cooler if it is 25oC and 0% humidity than if it is 25oC and 100% humidity. At 0% humidity you can think of the air as empty of water vapour, so the perspiration on your skin can easily change to vapour, and take heat away from you. At 100% humidity, the air is full of water vapour so the perspiration on your skin stays as liquid water and doesnt cool you down. So if you exercise when it is warm and humid, your body will produce extra heat, but your perspiration wont be able to remove it and you can dangerously over heat.
What are some of the heat disorders? Heat edema is quite mild and is when the hands or feet swell. Heat cramps are when you get sore muscles especially in the arms, legs, and stomach. Heat cramps can be the first sign of heat exhaustion which is more serious. Heat syncope is dizziness or fainting from the heat and is more serious. Heat exhaustion has symptoms like weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and headache. It is when the core body temperature rises above 38 C but less than 40.5C. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. People die from heat stroke. It is when the core temperature goes above 40.5 C. Get heat stroke patients to an emergency room.
So what actions should be taken for which symptoms? If the person losses consciousness, is confused or hallucinating, has convulsions, has trouble breathing, is vomiting a lot, or has hot dry skin with no sweat, it could be heat stroke. Call 911 or get the person to an emergency room. If the person is nauseated and vomits a little, has headaches, cramps, dizziness or tiredness, this may be heat exhaustion. Take off excessive clothing and get the person somewhere cool. Have them drink fluids. Wet the skin with cool or lukewarm water. Elevate the feet or hands if they are swollen. If the person doesnt recover in 30 minutes get them to an emergency room. Again, if in doubt about how serious the heat disorder is, assume heat stroke and get them to an emergency room.
Some medication can make it more likely to have heat related problems. Certain antidepressants, diuretics and beta-blockers can inhibit sweat production. Other medications that can increase your chance of heat problems are antipsychotics, medications for over active bladder and medications for Parkinsons disease.
To prevent heat disorders:
- drink plenty of cold water on hot summer days, especially before and during heavy physical exercise
- avoid coffee, tea, cola and alcoholic beverages as these can dehydrate you
- avoid heavy outdoor activity from 10 am to 3 pm
- stay out of the sun if possible and take lots of rest breaks (drink fluids during these breaks)
- get used to hot weather slowly over several days by gradually increasing your activity out in the hot weather
So what did I do when I got heat exhaustion? I had a cool shower, stayed where it was air conditioned and drank Gatorade. I should have been smarter and drank more fluids before and during my activities. I should have remembered summer in Manitoba gets hot. However, Eric, it is better if you dont remember the Scooby Doo plots. How else are you going to enjoy the cartoons? I like Scooby Doo too, but every episode ends with Velma pulling the rubber monster mask off the janitor. Then the villain says, And I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasnt for you meddling kids!
The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.
As always if you have any questions or concerns about these conditions, ask your pharmacist.
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