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Jun 8, 2017

Healthy Living Beats the Summer Heat

The heat has been very intense over the past few weeks and it is only the beginning of summer. You’ve heard the message countless times about staying hydrated and out of the heat. For those who needed added motivation to increase their water intake, tonight’s healthy living looks at the potential dangers of excessive heat exposure and dehydration.

 

Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist, Critical Care Specialist

“We take it for granted that we live in the Tropics. We live in Belize. We’ve been exposed to heart from we baan. Therefore heat can do us no harm. That is not the case.”

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Over the past few weeks, the summer heat has begun to set in. Temperatures are in the high nineties which with the added humidity can feel like over 100 degrees. It is hot. While you may think we should be accustomed to this as natives of the tropics, Clinical Care Specialist, Doctor Fernando Cuellar points out that Belizeans are still very much vulnerable to harmful effects of the heat.

 

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“We do have cases every year where people are affected, people are hurt and sometimes life threatening condition arise from exposure to heat.  Any temperature over forty degrees Celsius or one hundred and four degrees Fahrenheit are temperatures that we should be very wary off, very concerned about. We should try to reduce our exposure to these types of temperature. In some part of Belize the temperatures can go up as high as that. Be mindful that it is not just outside in the direct sunlight. People can be exposed to these temperatures in a room or in a car, in vehicles you can be exposed to temperatures that are very high.”

 

Fernando Cuellar

The most important thing you can do for your body on hot days; is stay hydrated. Dehydration is the first sign that your body is being affected by the heat.

 

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“Your body fluid content becomes less than it should. So you get dehydrated, parched lips, dry mouth; peepee turn dark color, feel weak, feel crampy, and then you start to feel out of it. Sometimes a little confused, lose focus. Those are signs and signals that something is going wrong.  There’s no real liquid or fluid that can substitute water. Water is the best hydrant that we can use to hydrate ourselves.  Some would argue that we need to get some electrolytes – so like the drinks like the Gatorade and the Pedialyte but defiantly you can’t go wrong if you drink good ole water.  One very important signal is the color of your pee. If it gets dark or dark yellow then you know that you need to step up your water intake.”

 

While everyone should take precaution and stay hydrated and cool. The two most vulnerable groups that are affected are young children and the elderly.

 

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“Less than four years old, they tend not to recognize for themselves. They’re babies pretty much. Their regulation mechanism is not as developed as it should be. The old – old meaning over sixty-five – those are two most vulnerable groups of people. But people who have other diseases. People who have high blood pressure. People who have diabetes. People who take medications such water pills and diuretics can become quicker dehydrated than other people.”

 

While it doesn’t happen very often, heat exposure can result in death when a person suffers a heat stroke.

 

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“Fortunately people are rescued before that happens but they would still need to be treated in the hospital a couple days with IV fluids, re hydration and so forth. It can lead to other organs dysfunction. It can lead to kidney problems – when your kidney is not getting enough fluids it should it leads to kidney failure the acute form and it can affect other organs in your body. It’s something serious something not to take lightly.”

 

Cuellar’s advice is to stay out of the heat when you can and also take additional precautions.

 

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“Try not to be exposed in the direct sunlight or heat like from 11 in the morning to three in the evening. So even school should not have the kids out in the playground too much around those hours. Use light colors, use a hat, use an umbrella, those kinds of things and don’t just take it for granted that we “big and bad” and we can take the heat. Any specific amount of liquids that people should be drinking? I like to be practical and I tell people at least one glass of water every hour.”

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