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Are You More at Risk for a Heat-Related Illness if You Have a Chronic Medical Condition?

People with chronic medical conditions need to be extra cautious during the hot days of summer -- even when engaging in normal activities. Some medical issues can become major problems in the summer sun and heat. Sometimes just doing an errand or taking a leisurely walk can become risky and dangerous for those with a chronic medical condition.

Conditions like heart disease, poor blood circulation, and obesity are risk factors for heat-related illness, according to the Center for Disease Control. Other conditions that can make individuals more vulnerable to heat include migraines, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune conditions, rosacea, and respiratory illnesses. People with these and other chronic conditions may be taking medications that worsen the effects of heat and they may be less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature.

Heat-related illnesses are both preventable and treatable by following these tips:

  •  Ask about your medications: Some medications worsen the effects of heat. These include medications being taken for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation.
  •  Stay hydrated: On hot days, drink fluids and don’t wait until you are thirsty. Avoid drinking sugary, caffeinated, or alcoholic beverages.
  • Stay cool: Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Open Car Windows-Turn on Air Conditioning before you get into the car. A car parked in the sun for one hour can reach an average cabin temperature of 116 degrees Fahrenheit.
  •  Know the Symptoms: Make sure you familiarize yourself with the symptoms of common heat-related illnesses. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, headache, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, loss of coordination, confusion, and seizures such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburn, and heat rash.
  • When in doubt, seek medical help, especially when you are feeling lightheaded or nauseous from the heat. Heat-related illnesses can be dangerous and life threatening, and high body temperatures can lead to brain damage or damage of other vital organs.
  • When Heat Illness is Severe, Take Extra Precautions and Call a Private Nurse:You will need to be watched, properly hydrated and your body temperature will need to be continuously monitored until it is less than 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

ACCESS Nursing Services, a 35-year provider of Private Nursing, RNs, LPNs, and Aides in New York City’s most prestigious hospital systems, offers Concierge Care private nursing care. ACCESS Nursing Services provides private duty nurses that deliver excellence in compassionate care. For more information visit our Private Duty Nursing page.