For The People

Heat Survival 101

You know summer has come with all its might and glory when you have already worked up a sweat at sunrise. Not because you enjoyed an early morning workout, simply because your head on the pillow was too much for your pores to handle.

The sun and its glow can be real fun and games sometimes as it encourages time with family and friends around the pool or at the ocean, helps to relieve stress and can also assist to improve your mood. The negative effects of the sun however, need to be taken into consideration as they can also be rather harsh on the skin and the human body in general.

Here are some ways in which the sun can harm the body:

– Too much time in the sun can have a terrible effect on your eyesight. Long-term, unprotected exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun can damage the retina, which is the back of the eye where the rods and cones make visual images, which are then sent to the visual centres in the brain. UV light is also a contributing factor to the development of cataracts. Damage from exposure to sunlight can also cause the development of cloudy bumps along the edge of the cornea, which can then grow over the cornea and prevent clear vision. The best way to prevent this kind of damage to eyesight is to always wear protective eyewear when spending time in the sun and not to stare into the sun for long periods of time.

– Heat exhaustion happens when the body has had an excessive loss of water and salt, generally through excessive sweating. People who work in the sun are at major risk of heat exhaustion. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include: headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature and decreased urine output. If your job requires you to be in the sun, you need to ensure that a constant flow of water is entering your system and that you always wear a hat and sunscreen. Breaks from the sun are also encouraged throughout the working day.

– If the symptoms of heat exhaustion are left untreated, it can elevate to heat stroke which is life threatening as it is the most serious heat-related illness. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention because if it is left untreated, it can cause death or permanent disability. Signs to look out for are: confusion, hot dry skin or profuse sweating, loss of consciousness and seizures, altered mental state and slurred speech. An emergency medical service needs to be contacted immediately should anyone experience these symptoms.

– The most common disadvantage of too much exposure to the sun is sunburn. This is generally experienced about four to five hours after the exposure to the sun has occurred. If you notice a sunburn fever, it’s time to seek attention from a medical professional. Besides a fever, severe burns also involve significant pain and extensive fluid-filled blisters. Redness, pain and swelling and flu-like symptoms like nausea, fever, chills or headaches are symptoms of sunburn.

The good news, is that much of the damage that the sun causes can be prevented. It is best to stay away from the sun during the peak hours; 12h00-15h00 and to always wear sun screen. Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before exposure to the sun and re-applied after every two hours.

Consider wearing a wide brimmed hat which provides protection all around your head and neck and always wear protective eye wear to prevent the UV rays from directly accessing your eyes. Increase your water in-take and rest whenever you feel overly hot and bothered.


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