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Preventing Heat Stroke: Stay Hydrated and Avoid Sunburn

Sun and CloudsHeat stroke is the most serious form of heat illness. Symptoms of heat stroke include high body temperature, lack of sweating, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, racing heart rate, headache, confusion, muscles cramps, muscle weakness, and unconsciousness. Heat stroke is an extremely serious condition and can result in death if not treated immediately. Fortunately, preventing heat stroke is easy with a few simple precautions.

Avoid Alcoholic, Sugary, and Caffeinated Drinks

An ice cold beer, hydrating sports drink or refreshing soda might sound delicious on a hot day. However, you should avoid alcoholic, sugary, and caffeinated drinks if you hope to prevent a heat stroke. Alcohol, sugar, and caffeine are all dehydrating and cause you to lose body fluid. As you become less hydrated, your chance of suffering a heat stroke increases.

Sugary sports drinks are the worst culprit. Eight ounces of an average sports drink contains about 14 grams of sugar. Although the electrolytes in sports drinks can help rehydrate you on a hot day, the high sugar content has the opposite effect. To reduce your chances of a serious heat illness, stick to low-sugar or sugar-free sports drinks. Better yet: Drink plain water instead. Skip ice cold water too, which can cause cramps. Lukewarm and cool water also absorbs into the body more quickly.

Prevent Sunburn

Sunburn is not just a painful condition that increases your risk of developing skin cancer. Sunburn also damages the skin, reducing your ability to sweat properly. When you fail to sweat enough, your body looses the ability to cool you down properly. Your best bet for preventing a sunburn is to avoid the sun between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Although you need about 15 minutes of sun each day for vitamin D, the rest of the time you should protect your skin.

In addition to avoiding the sun during the hottest times of the day, you can also easily prevent sunburn and heat stroke by using sunscreen. When choosing a sunscreen, select a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

Apply the sunscreen to your skin about 30 minutes before you head outside. Be sure to thoroughly cover any exposed skin not covered by protective clothing including the back of your neck, behind your ears, and the part in your hair. Reapply sunscreen after swimming or strenuous exercise.

If someone you know exhibits the symptoms of a heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately. What other tips do you follow for preventing heat stroke?

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