Elderly encouraged to be wary of heat

Older people, particularly with chronic medical conditions, are more susceptible to hyperthermia, an abnormally high body temperature. The National Institute on Aging recommends that they stay inside with air conditioning or a fan, drink plenty of fluids, and wear light clothing in hot weather.

Hyperthermia is caused by failure of heat-regulating processes in the body. Symptoms include dizziness, cramps, and fatigue, and heat stroke.

Heat stroke can be fatal. It is distinguished by a strong and rapid pulse, body temperature above 104 degrees, lack of sweating, dry flushed skin, mental status changes, staggering, faintness or coma.

Elderly people aren’t the only ones at risk for hyperthermia. Risks increase for people who have poor circulation and inefficient sweat glands, use alcohol, are over- or underweight, are dehydrated, or have heart, lung, and kidney diseases; high blood pressure; or reduced perspiration, or use multiple medications.

To assist someone who may be experiencing heat-related illnesses, the institute on aging recommends cooling the person down by moving them out of the sun, applying cool wet cloths to skin, and offering fluids such as water or fruit or vegetable juices. Drinks with alcohol and caffeine should be avoided.

 

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