Summer Heat Making Your Medical Condition Worse?

Medical Bracelets are crucial during Summer for the elderly, adults, and kids.

Summer may not be a happy time for everyone. There are some medical conditions that don’t play nicely with heat or some other temperamental weather shifts.

The CDC classifies 4 basic risk levels when it comes to the summer heat:

Heat Index Risk Level Protective Measures
Less than 91°F Lower (Caution) Basic heat safety and planning
91°F to 103°F Moderate Implement precautions and heighten awareness
103°F to 115°F High Additional precautions to protect workers
Greater than 115°F Very High to Extreme Triggers even more aggressive protective measures

When you stay out in the heat and humidity for too long, especially without drinking enough fluids, different types of heat-related problems arise. Illnesses that can be blamed just on the heat happen when your temperature control system can’t keep up with how hot it is. Your body temperature will spike very quickly and you can’t sweat fast enough to cool you down.

Kiddo’s have to be extra careful because they adapt to environmental changes, especially heat, slower than adults do. The almost battery powered way they play means they don’t think to rest and drink some water when playing with friends or participating in sports. If a child has chronic health problems, taking certain medicines, are overweight, or wear heavy clothing when outside (like football or marching band uniforms), they may be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

Paracord Medical ID Bracelet
Durable Paracord Medical Alert Bracelet

What are the heat-related illnesses?

There are Three big types of heat-related illnesses that escalate in severity:

  1. Heat Cramps
  2. Heat Exhaustion
  3. Heat Stroke

The fourth type of heat-related illness…

But I thought you only said three?!

I lied; but only because the first three are the severe ones.

…is heat rash.

What do they look like and how do I make them go away?

Condition Symptoms First-aid
* Remember, if you are not a medical professional, use this information as a guide only to help.
Heat cramps

(Mildest heat injury)
  • Painful cramps or spasms, especially in the legs (during or after activity)
  • Flushed, moist skin
  • Move to a cool place and rest.
  • Remove excess clothing and place cool wet cloths on skin; fan skin.
  • Give WATER or cool sports drinks containing salt, electrolytes, and sugar, such as Gatorade.
  • Stretch cramped muscles slowly and gently.
  • Remind them to breathe slowly
Heat exhaustion

(moderate)
  • Muscle cramps due to water and salt loss
  • Pale, moist skin
  • Usually, has a fever over 100.4° F (or 34° C)
  • Nausea, Vomiting, or Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue / Weakness
  • Anxiety, and faint feeling
  • Can progress to Heat Stroke
  • Move to a cool place and rest.
  • Remove excess clothing and place cool cloths on skin; fan skin.
  • Loosen Clothing
  • Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible
  • Slowly SIP WATER or a cool sports drink containing salt, electrolytes, and sugar, such as Gatorade.

 

  • If they don’t get better or can’t drink fluids, call your doctor or take them to the ER immediately. IV fluids may be needed.

 

Heat stroke

(most severe)
  • Warm, dry skin
  • high fever, usually over 104° F (or 40° C)
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fatigue or Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Stupor (near-unconsciousness or insensible)
  • Seizures, coma, and death are possible
  • Move to a cool place and rest.
  • Call 911 or your local emergency medical service. *****Heat stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency and needs to be treated by a doctor.
  • Remove excess clothing and drench skin with cool water (cloths or a bath); fan skin.
  • Place ice bags on the armpits and groin areas.
  • Do NOT give fluids.

 The secret fourth type:

Heat rash

(mild)
  • Clusters of red bumps on skin
  • Often appears on neck, upper chest, folds of skin
  • Try to work in a cooler, less humid environment when possible
  • Keep the affected area dry
+ Fainting due to heat is commonly referred to as Heat Syncope. It’s also mild and can be treated with fluids and relocating to someplace cool.

Of all natural disasters, heat waves kill more Americans. A 2006 heat wave in New York caused 40 heat stroke deaths and approximately 100 additional deaths related to underlying medical conditions that were exacerbated by the heat.

Risk Factors:

AGE

Adults over 65 or Kids 4 and younger

ENVIRONMENT

No Air Conditioning at home / no access to a place with AC

Limited Mobility or on Bed Rest / Confinement

Social Isolation (whether you’re just a lone wolf or because you live 20 minutes from your neighbor)

CHRONIC MEDICAL or MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS (including but not limited to):

Congestive Heart Failure / other Cardiovascular diseases

Diabetes / other Endocrine diseases

Emphysema / other Respiratory diseases

Liver Failure or Renal (kidney) Failure

Cerebrovascular Diseases

Cognitive or Psychiatric Disorders (dementia, schizophrenia, etc)

Obesity and Hypertension

TAKING MEDICATION THAT IMPEDES THERMOREGULATION  (including but not limited to):

Drugs that impair sweating:

Anticholinergic drugs • Antidepressants • Antihistamines • Antiparkinsonian drugs • Antipsychotic drugs • Tranquilizers Hypovolemia • Diuretics

Drugs that impair cardiovascular response:

Beta-blockers

Drugs that increase metabolic rate:

Amphetamines • Sympathomimetic drugs

Drugs that impair consciousness: 

Ethanol • Opioids • Sedative-hypnotics

NOT WEARING YOUR MEDICAL BRACELET

If you’re unconscious, confused, or impaired in any way – wearing your medical bracelet can reduce your risk of being misdiagnosed, unnecessary hospitalization, having an allergic reaction, etc. A mild case of heat exhaustion for someone else might be deadly to you.

Prevent Heat-Related Complications or Illness

HYDRATE (one of the MOST important!)
  • Drink, drink, and drink some more.  Don’t wait till you’re thirsty
  • Drink water or a sports drink with electrolytes
  • Avoid dehydrating liquids such as alcohol or fluids with caffeine (tea, coffee, and soda)
CLOTHING
  • Wear light colored clothing with sunscreen on underneath
  • Choose breathable, loose fitting fabrics
  • If you get hot, take excess off (just make sure to slather on the sunscreen)
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses       –  you will look smart and fashionable
  • Use an umbrella
  • Did I mention sunscreen? At least SPF 15, preferably 30 (otherwise you might as well just use milk)
BE COOL DUDE
  • Crank up that AC or find somewhere that has AC
  • Stay in the shade
  • Take a cool shower
  • Have a cool wet towel to wipe off your face, neck, then armpits if outside
BE SMART / PLAN AHEAD
  • Avoid the hard work or activities in mid-day sun
  • Schedule sports for cooler times and have a shady area to rest
  • Gradually increase time spent outside to build up your heat tolerance
  • Practice & teach kiddos “warm- up” and “cool-down” before and after exercising
  • Avoid using the oven to cook
NEVER, Ever, Ever, EVER leave a child, elderly person, or pet in a parked/ unattended car.

Seriously. Lawmakers are working (many successfully) to legalize breaking car windows in rescue attempts. So don’t do it.

CALL THE PROFESSIONALS
  • Call a doctor if you or someone else is experiencing early signs of heat-related illness.
  • Call 911 if you or someone else seems to be experiencing signs of Heat Stroke
  • If you have a kiddo on medication or has a medical condition, ask your pediatrician for more advice on preventing heat-related illness

Some Heat-Aggravated Medical Conditions

Multiple Sclerosis: Magnified Symptoms

Many people with MS, a debilitating central nervous system disease, report that hot or humid weather exacerbates their symptoms. The slightest increase in core body temperature (even just 1/4 of a degree) can bring on Uthoff’s phenomenon.

Uthoff’s phenomenon is caused by optic nerve damage. With an increased body temperature, vision becomes blurry. It’s generally one of the first signs of MS.

With such a small body temp increase, summer heat is a serious concern. In these hot conditions, the addition of blurred vision often accompanies general fatigue and weakness. To combat the weak and tired feeling, it’s important to slow down, get water, and take a break! You will thank yourself later.

Lupus: Sun Sensitive

Lupus, an autoimmune disease, has a history of causing sensitivity to sunlight. When the sun is cooking and the UV rays are blasting, people with lupus are particularly susceptible to burns. Remember, just because it’s not “sunny”, doesn’t mean the UV index is low. Make sure to check the index before going outside.

Painful skin irritations are a common result of the photosensitivity that comes with Lupus, especially for those with cutaneous lupus. Many of the medications taken for Lupus increase your photosensitivity! So to play or work outside, throw on sunscreen and a hat and don’t leave without a big bottle of water at the very least.

ALS: Motor Shorts & Meltdowns

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a  progressive neurodegenerative disease, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This impaired physical function and weakened muscles mean most people with ALS rely on motorized equipment like stair glides, power chairs, even respiratory equipment.

Every year, thunderstorms leave thousands without power. This scenario is very scary and very real for many with ALS.

One of the best techniques for staying safe is to make a support network of people to help at a moment’s notice. It’s also suggested to make a list of your motorized / power equipment and come up with a backup plan.

GastroIntestinal: Heating Upset

A study in Zurich Switzerland found that a heat wave, classified as higher temperatures above daily average for more than 6 days, brings bad news for people suffering from gastrointestinal problems. Heat waves increase the risk for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) flares and infectious gastroenteritis (IG).

Longer periods of the hot weather showed a 4.6% in hospitalization due to IBD relapse. Every day the heat wave continued, the percentage increased. There was a 4.7% increase in persons hospitalized with infectious gastroenteritis.

Summer Heat Medical Alert Bracelets
Engravable Medical Alert Bracelet and Flip Flop Style Medical Necklace

Infectious gastroenteritis may result in vomiting and stomach cramps, and can be caused by a virus, such as norovirus; a bacteria, such as salmonella; or a parasite, such as giardia.

Fun in the Sun with Medical Bracelets

Wearing your medical bracelet is important to do every day. With increased risk due to heat, having at least one medical bracelet you love to wear is needed for summer fun.

Find a bracelet for every day this summer at StickyJ. You can have fashionable beaded and sterling bracelets for daytime lunches, and mildew resistant/water resistant paracord or silicone options for your active days!

Stay safe in style!

 

 

Resources:
https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/heat_emergencies.html
http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html
http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/epi/heat_fact_sheet_providers.pdf   ***awesome resource check it out!
The Merck Manual of Geriatrics, 3rd Edition, edited by Mark H. Beers, and Robert Berkow. Copyright 2000 by Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station. Available at www.merck.com/mkgr/mmg/tables/67t1.jsp

Summer Heat Aggravating Your Medical Condition

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