Cindy Sanders, 404-712-4567
ATLANTA ≠ The arrival of beautiful summer days means many people are heading outdoors for fun in the sun. Outdoor summer adventures can bring lots of enjoyment and relaxation- or life threatening illness.
Heat cramps can spoil a summer outing, and heat stroke can lead to an irreversible coma and even death. According to Dr. Doug Lowery, emergency medicine physician at Emory University Hospital, "Heat illness is very common in the deep South. Itís severely hot and humid- conditions that can quickly lead to heat stroke, especially during July and August, typically the hottest months in Atlanta."
Whatís the best advice for preventing heat illness? "Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate," says Lowery. Drinking water is the best way to avoid heat related illnesses. And donít wait till you feel thirsty. "When youíre feeling thirsty, youíre already a quart low," he warns.
Although a cold beer may sound inviting on a hot summer day, drinking alcohol actually disrupts the bodyís cooling process by impairing the bodyís internal thermostat and by acting as a diuretic. "Alcohol is also involved in a lot of recreational injuries- even modest alcohol consumption during a pick-up game often leads to injury," says Lowery. You can also reduce risk of heat illness by taking time to cool off. Head towards the shade or inside a cooled building.
But even staying inside during hot summer days can also lead to heat stroke if the environment is not kept cool. "Deaths from severe heat are not uncommon," says Lowery, "especially among the elderly and newborns living in unairconditioned homes." Making sure your loved ones have access to a cooling mechanism is an important preventative measure.
During the summer months, insects can also be bothersome, and even deadly in rare cases. With one bite, insects can transmit life-threatening illnesses to humans. In 2002, 284 people died from West Nile virus, which is carried by the common mosquito.
"Wear insect repellant on your clothes," advises Lowery. "Many illnesses, not just West Nile, can be carried by insects." Checking yourself for ticks after outdoor yard work or hiking is also a good idea.
So when you set out to enjoy the summer, remember to take a few precautions. If you take steps to prepare yourself and loved ones for hot summer days, these summer health hazards are entirely preventable.
About Emory Hospitals
Emory Hospitals include Emory University Hospital, a 587-bed hospital located on the Emory University campus in northeast Atlanta, Emory Crawford Long Hospital, a 583-bed, community-based hospital in midtown and Wesley Woods Geriatric Hospital, a 100-bed hospital located on the Emory campus. Emory Hospitals are components of EMORY HEALTHCARE, the most comprehensive health care system in Atlanta. Other components of EMORY HEALTHCARE are: The Emory Clinic, the Emory Children's Center, the jointly owned Emory-Adventist Hospital, and EHCA, LLC, a limited liability company created in collaboration with HCA Healthcare.