Warning: Heat can hurt
There’s nothing quite like a warm summer day filled with outdoor activities – relaxing by the pool, grilling with friends and family or working on your golf game. However, if you do not properly take care of yourself, the heat from the summer sun can be a danger to your health.
Extended heat exposure can not only cause sunburn and dehydration – it can lead to more serious ailments such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Dr. Vanessa Hagan, an internal medicine physician with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., offers these tips to help you protect yourself from the harmful effects excessive heat from the sun can have on your body. You don’t have to miss out on your summer plans to stay safe, but learning to take simple precautions can protect you and allow for maximum summer fun.
What to wear
The clothing you sport in the summer months can make a significant difference in keeping cool while outside. Light-colored clothing is the best option because it does not attract as much heat as darker colors. Choose light, loose fabrics like linen and cotton instead of tight clothes that will trap sweat and cause discomfort.
In addition, the accessories that you choose to wear can not only be fashionable for summer but functional, as well. Sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, and wide-brimmed hats protect the sensitive skin on your face from damaging sun exposure. The skin around your eyes is especially delicate, and keeping it covered can block damage to that area. Also, keep in mind that your body regulates its temperature mainly through your feet and hands, so choosing shoes that will keep your feet cool can do wonders for your overall temperature.
How to protect your skin
You may envy models and athletes who have bronzed, tan skin. However, the best way to keep your skin healthy and youthful looking for longer is to keep it protected from the sun. When enjoying the warm weather, always wear sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 30. Don’t forget a lip balm with SPF to protect your lips and lock in moisture. Guarding your skin from the sun can not only prevent painful sunburns; it can also ward off more long-term damage such as skin cancer, age spots and premature wrinkles.
What to eat
Hot weather makes you sweat, which keeps you cool, but also means your body is losing water at a quicker rate. Staying hydrated and choosing foods with high water content can help you avoid dehydration. Drinking water is always the best option when it comes to hydrating your body in the summer. You can also include more fruits and vegetables in your diet, which are simple to digest and often have a high water content.
When to avoid the sun completely
Try to stay out of the summer sun between the times of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. if you can. These are peak hours of sunlight during which the temperatures and UV rays are at their highest. Spending the early afternoon inside with air-conditioning can help you stay safe when the heat gets to dangerous levels. If you are active during these times, stay close to convenience stores, restaurants or other establishments where you can go to gain relief from the sweltering heat.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.