AS temperatures soar, you may find yourself losing your cool in more ways than one.
Before you literally get “hot and bothered”, heed the weatherman’s forecast of warm days ahead and take steps to reduce the risk of ill health from the heat.
What you have to do, according to health experts, requires no doctor’s prescription – it’s mostly a matter of common sense.
And the consensus on the top ways to stay cool include:
> HYDRATE, hydrate, hydrate! (Drink plenty of fluids);
> WEAR light coloured clothing and keep clothing to the minimum;
> CHOOSE loose clothing over tight-fitting ones, and cotton over synthetics;
> KEEP in the shade as much as possible;
> STAY in the coolest parts of the building, or in air-conditioned environments;
> AVOID going out during the hottest times of the day (noon to 4pm);
> TAKE frequent cold showers or even go for a swim; and
> IF you sweat excessively, replace the salt lost.
Dietician Goo Chui Hoong also advises you to eat lighter meals with a higher proportion of vegetables and fruit – such as salads and fresh cut fruits – as these foods contain a high percentage of water.
“Fruits and vegetables are made up of 90% water, especially juicy fruits like watermelon and oranges, and go for a good variety,” says the adjunct senior lecturer with the International Medical University KL.
Apart from making it a point to be properly hydrated – drinking regularly even if you don’t feel thirsty – she does not advocate any special diet.
However, she says some people may find it hard to drink a lot of water at one go, or dislike the taste of plain water, in which case one may opt for juices and all types of liquids. “The thing is to get fluid at this point,” she says.
“Generally, you need to take an amount the equivalent of your body weight in kilograms multiplied by 30ml,” she says. That means if your weight is 60kg, you should drink at least 1,800ml of liquid per day.
For those who work outdoors, under the hot sun, that amount needs to go up dramatically as you lose more water to sweat. What we are looking for is a balanced replacement of fluids.
And if you are fasting, some of the above remedies may not be available to you. But you can:
>DRINK plenty of water before you start fasting;
>AVOID salty food at sahur which can make you thirsty later in the day;
>AVOID strenuous outdoor activity, like sport or gardening, keeping it for the cooler parts of the day;
>DON shades, a hat, or carry an umbrella when going outdoors;
>BREAK fast with first a drink – water, a slightly sweet, cool drink, or a sports drink or coconut water to replenish lost electrolytes; and
>THEN have a tasty, well-seasoned meal to replenish salt and minerals lost through sweating.
Symtoms to watch out for that tell you the heat is getting to you include shortness of breath, profuse sweating, headache, nausea, itching and outbreak of spots.
According to Britain’s National Health Service website, without appropriate precaution during a heatwave, here’s what happens to your body:
“First comes heat exhaustion, which involves profuse sweating, rapid breathing, and listlessness. Then the skin starts to feel dry, because it’s not able to perspire to keep temperatures low.
“If still not treated by drinking water, going to a cool area or having a cold shower, nausea, vomiting, headaches and low blood pressure follow. In severe cases, you may feel confusion or intoxicated.
“If the ordeal continues, the reduced blood pressure will cause blood vessels to contract, making the skin pale (or even blue). This may be followed by seizures and then organ failure. As the body shuts down, the person will fall unconscious and may die.
“Those most vulnerable are children and the elderly, because their body regulation systems are the weakest. Equally, however, healthy individuals spending a lot of time outdoors, such as construction workers or farmers, are also at risk.”