THE ABC’S OF HEALTH
BY Dr. Jo Gjelsten
If ‘Ya Can’t Stand The Heat….
Go get a glass of water right now before you read on. Now drink the whole thing. Ok, now you might actually understand what you’re reading. Why? Because your brain, according to studies by hydrated people, needs water to work efficiently, as does your body, which is 60% water, or possibly more if you’re “retaining”, as retaining people like to say. DEHYDRATION Facts, Ma’m, which Dr. Jo loves to ask when she’s leading a walking group in her Smokey the Bear outfit, ok it’s just a green tee shirt, for “Steps To A Healthier Rockland”. (See Rockland Americorp, whose Docent information packet I am referencing here; it is that important for you to know). So here we go: 1). Exercising in the heat may cause what, besides a stinky shirt? Answer: Dehydration, AND if it overloads the circulatory system, it causes “heat exhaustion”. 2) What does that look like? Answer: Normal temperature…yes, or maybe a few degrees higher, and sweating, or schvitzing if you prefer, …profusely, or a lot, Soggy Bottom. Pulse? Love when it’s there, but it can be rapid and weak. Other symptoms? Answer: Headache, confusion, faintness, and nausea. This is not good if you’re trying to read a compass, which you might find yourself doing in the bathroom if it’s REALLY bad. 3) Even standing in heat can cause a person to faint. Why? Answer: Blood drawn from the skin pools in the legs and reduces blood pressure and cardiac output. Is that serious? Does that SOUND serious! No, only if the compass doesn’t get you out of the bathroom. Seriously, of course it‘s serious! If you don’t pay attention, you could be, as I like to say, taking yourself out of the gene pool, Gene! 4) Treatment? Move out of heat …big surprise there, re-hydrate and, depending upon the patient’s health status, and do check, add electrolytes. 5) What are those? Sodium, and potassium among others. How do they work? By controlling fluid in the cells! So, what is heat stroke? The Answer: My friends is Blowin’ in the Wind ..is when your temperature goes to and past 106 degrees F, or 41 degrees Celsius, and you could fry and egg on your forehead, but don’t try this yourself. So what happens Mabel? It ain’t pretty. Your “temperature controls system”, Mabel, fails and the following awfulness happens. Fluid leaks into tissues, so less blood goes back to your heart, causing a shortage of blood to your vital organs. This in turn causes damage to those organs, so don’t let this happen to you or someone you even only like, Lumpy. So, Dr.Jo what are the risk factors for heat exhaustion, and or stroke? Answer: Age over 50, (uh oh), history of cardiac insufficiency, and people with diabetes. And heat of course. The very old and very young are especially vulnerable. (And rabbits can also die in the heat, which I only mention because we have them, and you might also have them, and ours have their own air conditioned room because we love them, the cute little spoiled poopster and poopsterettes). Does this, heat exhaustion, back to that, happen right away? This was surprising even to me. The answer is: No, it may take days to develop! It’s called a “slow cooker”, how nice. (Who thought of that, Nancy Grace?) Who (mostly) gets this? Older folks who can’t get out of heat! And “Fast Cooker”? How fast is fast? Fifteen, yes, 15 minutes may be all it takes to get EHS or “exertional heat stroke”; Athletes get this. And symptoms of EHS? This you need to pay attention to Toots, so glug down more water. They are: Disorientation to coma! And the time spent in a coma may affect damage done. Other warning signs are irritation, belligerence, and seizures. So if you’re hiking with someone and find yourself arguing over nothing and everything, over nothing, it could be you both need to go jump in a lake. Treatment: Get to an EME
I just did a bike ride up at Minnewaska State Park in New Paltz, on a hot day. It was about 3 miles to Lake Awosting (on the green trail), which was wonderfully clear and cool to enjoy. I took my Dr. Jo’s Good To Go Bar with me (shameless plug) as I’m now addicted (I really am) to the guilt free chocolate/coconut sugar free bars. And I drank water before I started, but to stay hydrated and cool on the way up, I took my liter of frozen drink, prepared the night before, containing some electrolytes and nutrients, green tea, pomegranate juice, and some energizing powders so I don’t fall faint into the arms of the bear there. I’ll drink to that! Copyright July 7, 2011. ©☺P.S. Speaking of water, if the coliform count in the Hudson River concerns you, please go to http://www.riverkeeper.org/water-quality/locations/rockland-westchester/nyack-launch-rampDISCLAIMER
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