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Five Things to Keep in Mind during a Heat Wave

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 Five Things to Keep in Mind during a Heat Wave
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Heat waves are a state of emergency, not a seasonal nuisance

The looming threat of global warming becomes a daily reality starting in May. According to the annual temperature outlook by the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), the year 2021 is 96% likely to rank among the 10 warmest years on record.

Despite indisputable evidence on the effects of extreme temperatures on mortality, and with an estimated three billion people expected to be living in places with “near un-liveable” temperatures by 2070, there are still fewer studies devoted to this than to the effects of air pollution. A 2014 research conducted in China revealed a correlation between heat waves and increased mortality rates resulting from cardiovascular disorders (46.9% increase), respiratory disorders (32%), and stroke (51.3%). 

Heat waves are a state of emergency, not a seasonal nuisance

When internal sensors tell the brain the body is warming, the hypothalamus (a small part at the base of the brain responsible for many functions like releasing hormones and regulating body temperature) sends signals that dilate blood vessels close to the skin, causing more blood to circulate there and lose heat. Another part of the brain, the medulla oblongata, gets in touch with the heart to increase its rate and the amount of blood pumped per beat. During a heat wave, haemoconcentration (increased red blood cells concentration in the circulating blood)  caused by sweating increases cardiac workload, dehydration, salt depletion, blood viscosity and the risk of thrombosis (blood clotting), the latter being considered the most common underlying cause of cardiovascular disorders. 

The loss of fluids and salt, combined with a lowered blood pressure causes muscle cramps, headaches, and tiredness, as well as  dizziness, confusion, and nausea leading to fainting. Someone experiencing one or more of these symptoms during a heat wave is considered to be having heat exhaustion. If not cooled down within 30 minutes, professional medical help should be sought. While healthy people can easily cope with the rising temperature, for people above 65, or those struggling with long-term conditions such as diabetes, it is harder to cope with the strain of heat on the body. For instance, the complications of diabetes (type 1 and 2) can make patients lose water more quickly, and alter their blood vessels and sweating.

Here are a few things to keep in mind during this summer’s heat waves:

1. Stay hydrated with water
Even if you’re not thirsty, drink plenty of fluid before you start work, take regular breaks and then drink again when you rest. It is recommended to drink eight cups, or roughly two liters of water per day, and two and a half liters during the summer months. Drinking at shorter intervals is more effective than drinking large amounts infrequently.

2. Avoid peak sun times 
The time period between 10 A.M to 4 P.M. usually witnesses peak high temperatures. Limit time outside in the sun and avoid strenuous outdoor activity and workout during this time. When you’re outdoors, make sure you and others, especially the elderly, stay in the shade as much as possible. Wear sunscreen, wear a hat, and carry an umbrella if needed. 

3. Avoid caffeinated beverages 
Don’t drink sugary soda, coffee, energy drinks, or other caffeinated drinks as they cause dehydration. You can consume a significant amount of water by including a variety of water-rich fruits, vegetables and dairy products in your diet, such as watermelon, cabbage, and plain yogurt. 

4. Wear light clothes 
Wearing loose-fitting, airy, light-colored clothing and a hat made of breathable material helps lose heat, whereas tight clothing traps heat. 

5- Stay fit
Daily exercise, fitness from long-term training, and habitual exercise has a significant benefit in helping the body to tolerate heat. 

This content is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Contact your local doctor in an emergency if you or someone else is suffering heat-related symptoms.

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Ms. Wazne received her Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from the Lebanese American University in 2011 . She completed her Masters degree in Clinical Pharmacy from the Lebanese University. Ms. Wazne has worked at the American University of Beirut Medical Center for more than ten years. Ms. Wazne has given a variety of oral presentations to nurses, and pharmacists on local and national level . She has been certified from Harvard Medical School in Immuno-oncology and Cancer Genomics. She is an active member in the Order of Pharmacists of Lebanon. Her professional interests include medication safety and research.

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Sirine Abou Al Hassan is a US. registered clinical dietitian with extensive experience in nutritional management of chronic and diet-related diseases. Previously, Sirine worked as clinical dietitian specialized in obesity weight management, Child and Maternal Health and Eating Disorders. She graduated from University College London with a masters of science in Clinical Nutrition and Eating Disorders; Following on from a Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics-Coordinated Program from the American University of Beirut, both with distinction

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