After months confined mainly indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, children and adults alike are yearning for sunshine and fresh air. As restrictions begin to be lifted, it’s easy to overdo our time in the sun. That could result in more than just a little sunburn – it could lead to dehydration and even heatstroke.
How to avoid dehydration and heatstroke
Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluids than you take in, and your body doesn't have enough water and other fluids to do its work. Unfortunately, you can’t always trust your thirst to let you know when your body needs water. Many people don't feel thirsty until they're already dehydrated, so pay attention to other signs of dehydration such as less frequent urination, dark-coloured urine, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion.
Dehydration can have serious consequences, including heatstroke, a condition caused by your body overheating. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles. Call 911 immediately if you notice symptoms that could indicate a person is suffering from a heatstroke, such as high body temperature, altered mental state or behaviour, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, or racing heart rate.
People who should be especially careful in the heat include elderly or obese individuals, and people suffering from a chronic illness such as diabetes, heart, lung or kidney disease.
Some medication can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight or increase the risk of dehydration. Your pharmacist will explain what to do to mitigate these risks.
Cooling off while keeping your distance
As restrictions on outdoor sports begin to lift, there are many ways to stay safe while enjoying the sun. Here are some easy ways to stay cool:
Swimming remains a summer favourite, and there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread through the water in pools or water playgrounds. Proper chlorine maintenance of the water is important to inactivate the virus, of course, and social distancing rules still apply: wherever you’re taking a dip, stay at least two metres away from people you don’t live with. Taking a cool shower or bath works too!
- Drink plenty of liquids, especially water, before you feel thirsty. Adding cucumber slices, lemon or fruit to your water can make it more appealing. Eat more fruits and vegetables as well, as they have a high water content.
- Limit your alcohol intake in hot weather, as it can leave you dehydrated.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing to stay cool, and protect yourself against sunburn by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
- Stay in the shade while outside, and exercise in the morning or evening when the temperature is cooler.
During heat waves, if your home is not air-conditioned, you can take a break from the heat by spending a few hours in a public space, such as a library or shopping mall. Make sure to keep on practicing the proper preventive measures, in any case and that the facilities you want to visit are open to visitors.
Your pharmacist can help with sun protection
The risk of dehydration and heatstroke doesn’t mean you need to hide indoors all summer! It’s easy to safely enjoy the beautiful weather. Never neglect to use sun protection, every time you go outside. If you have any concerns, your pharmacist is always a trusted source of information.