Seniors are especially
at risk in high heat situations. Large stretches of
USA are experiencing extreme temperatures at the moment. Care-
givers need to check on the elderly. If you live in another
city, call the police department, or someone you know, to
check on your loved one.
Does an elderly
person live in your neighborhood? Go knock on the door and ask
how things are going.
Do NOT accept the first answer. We all want to say,
"OH, I'm ok, don't worry." The person may not realize they are
suffering from heat exhaustion. Invite them into air
conditioning, offer to take them to an air conditioned mall or
other building. Sit in a hospital waiting room. Anything to
get out of the heat for a while. Ask a senior to become an
Top Ten Tips on
Keeping Seniors Safe in Summer Heat
● Drink plenty
of liquids -- eight or more 8-ounce glasses per day and or
fruit juices -- every day to stay hydrated.
● Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.
● Dress appropriately. Wear loose-fitting clothes in
natural fabrics like cotton and dress in light colors that
will reflect the sun and heat instead of darker colors that
will attract them.
● When outdoors, protect your skin from damage by wearing
hats, sunglasses and a sunscreen of 30 SPF or more.
● Stay indoors during extreme heat.
● If you do not have air conditioning in your apartment, go
somewhere that does. A movie theater, the mall, a friend or
relative's home or a community senior center are all good
● If you need to get out of the house and don't drive a car,
call a taxi, a friend or a transportation service. Do NOT
wait outside for the bus in extreme heat.
● If you are absolutely unable to leave the house and do not
have air conditioning, take a cool bath or shower to lower
your body temperature on extremely hot days.
● Temperatures inside the home should not exceed 85 degrees
Fahrenheit for prolonged periods of time.
● Know the signs of heat stroke (e.g flushed face, high body
temperature, headache, nausea, rapid pulse, dizziness and
confusion) and take immediate action if you feel them coming
(images added by SeniorArk)
How to Avoid
Summer's Health Woes
Experts explain strategies for preventing 6 common maladies
from ruining your summer fun.
It's summer, which
means the mercury is on the rise, the beach is where it's at,
and a cold glass of lemonade is exactly what the doctor
ordered. What the doctor forgot to mention was that summer can
bring with it more than flip-flops and surf boards; think food
poisoning, heatstroke, poison ivy,
and swimmer's ear.
Before you pack up
your picnic and call it quits until winter, here are summer
survival tips on how to make sure the warm weather months are
fun-filled and sick-free.
are more common in summer for a number of reasons," says Linda
Harris, PhD, professor in the food science and technology
department at University of California Davis. "If the
temperature is higher, there is more opportunity for
temperature abuse of foods -- that is leaving them in the
danger zone, which is anything above 40 and below 140 degrees.
In this range, microorganisms that cause food-borne disease
From the pasta salad
left out all afternoon on the Fourth of July, to a turkey and
mayo sandwich in your backpack on a 3-mile hike up a mountain
on a warm day, to simply driving from the grocery store to
your home in the sweltering heat, summertime foods are a
breeding ground for trouble -- and bacteria.
How to avoid
it. "There are four basic rules for preventing
food-borne illness: cook, clean, chill, and separate -- and
these become important during summer," says Harris, who is a
scientific communicator with the Institute of Food
First, she recommends,
use a thermometer when cooking so you know your food is
Second, "when you are
outside, it's always best to wash with soap and water. But if
you can't, bring sanitizing handy wipes so you can clean your
hands after you handle food," Harris tells WebMD.
Third, "if you are
going to a picnic, use a cooler where you can maintain food in
a cool temperature," says Harris. "Don't use it to make things
cold, but to keep things cold. Remember to bring enough ice,
as well. If you can't use a cooler, like on a hike, bring
foods that don't need refrigeration. Or freeze your foods, so
when you are ready to eat them, they're thawed out."
Finally, Harris says,
"Keep your utensils and dishes that you use for raw meat
separate from those you use to eat."
The warning signs of food-borne illness are the usual
suspects, explains Harris: vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, flu-like
symptoms, or any combination of these not-so-pleasant
"One of the mistakes
people make is to assume that the last thing they ate is the
cause of their symptoms," says Harris. "While some types of
food-borne illnesses take two to six hours until symptoms
appear, others take one or three days. So the culprit is not
always the last thing you had, even though that's probably
what came up."
What to do.
Despite best efforts, if you fetch up with something you might
suspect is food-borne, keep in mind, "Some food-borne
illnesses, such as E. coli O157:H7, can be life-threatening,
particularly for young children, the elderly, and those with
weakened immune systems," according to the FDA's Center for
Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "Symptoms that are severe
or prolonged may need to be treated. People who believe they
may have contracted a food-borne illness should call their
While mosquito bites
used to be little more than annoying and itchy bumps on your
arm or behind your ear, now we have even more reason to avoid
them with things like West
Nile virus and Triple E (Eastern Equine Encephalitis)
How to avoid
it. Your attack against a mosquito bite is
three-pronged, according to the CDC's web site: "Use insect
repellent, particularly those with DEET, picaridin, or oil of
lemon eucalyptus; wear as much clothing as the warm weather
will allow; and avoid the outdoors during dusk and dawn --
peak biting times."
Mosquito bites will appear as red, raised bumps on your skin.
Worse, they'll itch.
What to do.
Mosquito bites usually go away in less than a week, according
to the web site of the University of Maryland Medical Center.
In the meantime, you can wash the area and keep it clean, use
an ice pack or a cool compress to alleviate itching, take an
antihistamine, or use an anti-itching cream, such as calamine
Nearly 80% of people
infected with West Nile virus will not have any symptoms. If
you start to experience symptoms like fever, headache, body
aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or
a skin rash
on the chest, stomach, and back, according to the CDC's web
site, see your doctor. There's a chance these could be
symptoms of West Nile virus.
Swimmer's ear is a
kid's nightmare when summer finally arrives.
"Just like when your
fingers get pruney when you're in the water too long, the same
thing happens to your ears," says Peter Galier, MD, of the
Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.
When you swim, or even
shower or bathe, water can get trapped in your ear canal,
causing the canal to get inflamed and infected.
How to avoid
Gone are the days of Silly Putty in your ears.
Now it's simply wax ear plugs, or custom-fit ear plugs,
explains Galier, to prevent swimmer's ear.
"The symptoms of swimmer's ear are ear pain and decreased
hearing," says Galier.
You might also
experience, according to the web site of the American Academy
of Otolaryngology, a sensation that the ear is full, fever, or
swollen lymph nodes.
What to do.
"Treating swimmer's ear requires a prescription," says Galier.
"You need to see your doctor."
heatstroke go hand in hand," says Galier. "It happens most
commonly in people who are out in the sun."
What happens, explains
Galier, is that people sweat and replace their lost
electrolyte-packed body fluids with only water. Dehydration
can soon follow, and heatstroke can set in if a person becomes
so dehydrated they can't sweat enough to cool down, and their
body temperature rises.
How to avoid
it. "If you are outside and sweating, you should be
drinking at least a 50-50 mix of Gatorade and water, which has
potassium and sodium," Galier tells WebMD. "You need to be
drinking at least one small liter bottle of this mix every
hour if you're working or exercising in the sun."
"Symptoms of dehydration can run the gamut from thirst and
to headaches, nausea, and confusion," says Galier. "Heatstroke
symptoms are also headache and confusion, but include delirium
and even hallucinations."
What to do.
While mild dehydration can be treated by rehydrating with
fluids, heatstroke is more serious. "If you have heatstroke,
you need to go to the emergency room so you can have
intravenous fluids," says Galier. "With really bad heatstroke,
your kidneys can shut down."
The old adage still
rings true, explains Galier. "Leaves of three -- let them be,"
he says. So when the summer months begin, plan ahead when you
know you're going to be trekking through the woods.
How to avoid
it. "Poison ivy is a tri-leafed plant, usually with a
little yellow and purple, and it tends to be anywhere with
shrubbery, hiding out with other vegetation," says Galier.
"So stay out of shrub areas or wear high boots or high socks,
stay on the path, and don't touch anything you don't
Poison ivy can creep up on you, even if you wear head-to-toe
clothing. "It's the oil of the leaf that's the problem," says
Galier. "If you take your clothes off and you touch your
clothes, you're going to get it." The "it" he's referring to
is the itching and swelling.
What to do.
It's time to get out the topical anti-itching cream again,
like calamine lotion. "If you can suffer through it and it
doesn't get worse, you can ride it out," says Galier. If it
gets worse, you'll need to see a doctor for topical steroids
or oral steroids."
There's nothing worse
than a sunburn in the summer. It hurts, it looks funny, and it
means you have to stay inside until it gets better -- or go
outside in the hot summer sun fully clothed to protect your
burnt-to-a-crisp skin. Why does the sun cook us like a strip
of bacon? According to the CDC's web site, "Sunlight consists
of infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light, and ultraviolet
light consists of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. The UVA rays cause
tanning and wrinkling, while UVB rays cause sunburn, aging,
wrinkling, and skin cancer."
How to avoid
it. It's simple -- either stay inside or wear
sunscreen. According to the CDC's web site, "Dermatologists
recommend using a full-spectrum sunscreen that blocks or
absorbs all UV rays." And of course, don't think just because
it's cloudy you can skip the sunscreen. Most UV rays pass
right through clouds.
While the sun might feel nice while you're baking underneath
it, a few hours later, you'll pay the price if you didn't
protect yourself with sunscreen. According to the CDC's web
site, "Symptoms usually start about four hours after sun
exposure, worsen in 24-36 hours, and resolve in three to five
days. In mild sunburn, the skin becomes red, warm, and tender.
More serious burns are
painful, and the skin becomes swollen and may blister."
What to do.
The bad news is, there's really no way to treat a sunburn --
you just need to ride it out. The CDC recommends aspirin,
acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to
relieve pain and headache and reduce fever; drinking water to
help rehydrate; and cool baths.
If the sunburn is more
severe and blisters
develop, the CDC's web site recommends, "Lightly bandage or
cover the area with gauze to prevent infection. The blisters
should not be broken, as this will slow the healing process
and increase the risk of infection."
SOURCES: Peter Galier,
MD, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. Linda Harris, PhD,
professor, food science and technology department, UC Davis;
scientific communicator, Institute of Food Technologists. FDA
web site: "Food, Nutrition, and Cosmetics Questions &
Answers." CDC web site: "Fight the Bite." CDC web site: "West
Nile Virus: What you need to know." CDC web site: "Sunburn."
American Academy of Otolaryngology web site: "Swimmer's Ear."
University of Maryland Medical Center web site: "Insect Bites
© 2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.