Summer can be an unnecessarily dangerous time of the year. In our enthusiasm to participate in summer activities, we can go beyond our physical limitations causing the body to become overly stressed. This can result in heat stroke, heat cramps, or heat exhaustion.
These reactions usually occur when large amounts of water, salt, or both, are lost through profuse sweating following strenuous exercise or annual labor in an extremely hot atmosphere.
Elderly persons, small children, chronic invalids, overweight people, and alcoholics are especially sensitive to circulatory reactions, particularly if they live in a normally moderate climate.
Although everyone regardless of age or sex is a potential victim, males are considered generally more susceptible because of their physical make-up.
About 75% of energy produced by muscle activity in the body is in the form of heat. Heat is dissipated by vasodilatation of surface vessels, perspiration, and panting. Females can usually endure more external heat than males because their subcutaneous tissue acts as an insulator, which aids in optimal thermal maintenance. But at the same time, it hampers loss of heat. Therefore, although the male is more likely to succumb to problems induced by insufficient heat loss, both sexes must watch out for heat-induced afflictions.
Preventive measures include getting plenty of water and micronutrient. The person who exerts himself heavily during the summer such as the athlete, sports enthusiast, or manual laborer should supplement excessive fluid loss. Drinks low in refined sugar are best. The sweeter the drink, the longer it remains in the stomach, and thus the longer it takes to replace the fluid lost form the body. Alcoholic beverages are contraindicated.
Health authorities often recommend electrolytic drinks because they replace vital minerals lost in perspiration and metabolism. There are numerous electrolytic drinks, which are commercially available.
Although older people often succumb to heat, the prime victims are children. The basis is the same as that which causes this group to be the prime victims of all sports injuries: unrestrained enthusiasm to participate and the zeal for peer acceptance keep the child from quitting until exhaustion is severe.
Summer danger is not limited to the direct effects of heat alone. As the individual's body temperature builds and fatigue sets in, coordination and discretion are affected. The person becomes more negligent... and this invites other types of injuries.
As a Doctor of Chiropractic who treats many types of summer-related injuries, I recommend the following rules:
1. Drink plenty of fluids in the summer.
2. Try to get plenty of ventilation in indoor work or play areas.
3. Take more frequent rest breaks than you do during the winter.
4. Shade your head from the strong sun with a cap if working out of the shade for long periods of time.
5. Avoid heavy meals before and after strenuous exercise.
6. If a heat injury occurs, seek immediate emergency treatment.
7. Maintain your health year-round; your reaction to heat is influenced by the functions of several systems of your body. To assist in gaining balanced function, strive to keep your body in shape. This will aid your natural restoration and resistance capabilities.