Hot weather tough for those with chronic illness
It’s the end of summer and states across the U.S. are feeling the heat. Those 90 degree days have found us.
Hot, humid weather can be especially dangerous for those with a chronic illness.
“A healthy body temperature is maintained by the nervous systems,” says Dr. Sandra McGowan, a family medicine physician at Advocate Medical Group in South Holland, Ill. “When the nervous system is compromised by a chronic disease then your body may have difficulty responding to the heat.”
A stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and other conditions can alter the brain’s response to dehydration. It may fail to send thirst signals.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with a chronic medical condition are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. Also, they may be taking medications that can worsen the impact of extreme heat.
Many medications increase your risk of a heat-related illness. Some medicines can change your body’s ability to stay cool.
For instance, follow your doctor’s instructions about the type and amount of liquids you should drink if you are taking a diuretic “water pill” in order to avoid dehydration.
“Antidepressants can alter the body’s ability to regulate temperature. Antihistamines and some Parkinson’s drugs can alter your body’s ability to sweat which is your body’s natural way of cooling,” she says. “Beta blockers mainly used for high blood pressure also affect your body’s ability to sweat.”
Dr. McGowan offers the following tips to stay cool:
- Stay in the air conditioning, especially during peak heat hours
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Take cool showers or baths
Dr. McGowan advises that every person healthy or not should pay especially close attention to their body and how it reacts in the heat.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.