SUN EXPOSURE AND YOUR HEALTH
1. DO’S AND DON’TS FOR OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES ON HOT DAYS
- Wear light weight, light coloured and loose fitting clothes
- Ensure plenty of hydration before, during and after any physical activity
- Do be alert to recognise symptoms of heat-related injuries
- Resume activities at a cooler area if required
- Apply sunblock before any physical activity and re-apply every 2 hours
- Avoid doing prolonged strenuous exercises or activities
- Do not drink any alcoholic or caffeinated drinks (they are diuretic and therefore will cause you to lose body fluids faster)
- Avoid staying under the hot sun for prolonged periods of time
- Do not delay hydration to the feeling of thirst occurs
- Do not over exert yourself while engaging in outdoor activities
2. SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE FOR OUT DOOR ACTIVITIES ON HOT DAYS
- swimming and other water sports
- jogging or cycling outdoors
- rock climbing or any other outdoor sport with significant sun exposure
- working outdoors (physical work or any work-related activities outdoors)
Some special precautions to take while engaging in the above activities are wearing loose-fitting and light weight clothes to reduce overexertion and constant hydration before, during and after the exercises.
3. HOW DOES SUN EXPOSURE AFFECT YOUR HEALTH?
Although sun exposure is the primary source of Vitamin D for most of us, prolonged exposure affects the health as it can cause burn injuries and dehydration. Long-term sun exposure can lead to a wide range of detrimental health effects like skin cancer, premature ageing and cataracts.
Hydration and moisturising the skin are essential after such exposure as recovery may differ for each individual.
4. SIGNS AND PREVENTION OF DEHYDRATION
Ensure plenty of hydration! The amount that one should consume is entirely dependent on his/her body weight. When you are feeling thirsty, it often indicates dehydration. Therefore, do constantly hydrate with water or isotonic drinks (non-caffeinated). A good gauge of hydration would be from observing the urine colour. Ideally, urine should be light yellow to clear.
5. HEAT-STROKE AND HEAT-INDUCED ILLNESSES
General signs of heat-induced illnesses may include the following:
- Neurological symptoms like near fainting, nausea, giddiness, dizziness, and headache.
- Feeling of thirst
- Dry mucous membranes e.g. mouth, tongue.
- Muscle cramps
In serious cases, it can progress to heat stroke. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and is potentially life threatening. Patients affected with heatstroke present with a high body temperature, an inability to sweat properly and confusion, coma or delirium. It can also lead to multi-organ failure such as kidney and liver failure.
6. WHO IS MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO HEAT-INDUCED ILLNESSES?
Young children, pregnant women and the elderly are oft en more suscepti ble to heat-related illnesses. Young children are more at risk as they produce more heat with acti vity, sweat less and have a larger relati ve surface area as compared to an adult. It is also common for children not to drink enough fl uids whenever they are engaged in a fun acti vity. For pregnant women and the old, they are more prone to dehydrati on due to their diff erent physiological needs of the body. The extra precauti ons to be taken would be constant hydrati on or consumpti on of isotonic drinks (non-caff einated). The amount that one should consume is enti rely dependent on your body weight.
7. WHEN SHOULD YOU SEE A DOCTOR?
When your body is unable to cope with excessive heat exposure or unable to disperse heat, your risk of heat-related illnesses increases exponenti ally. It is highly recommended that you rest and start hydrati ng if general signs of heat-related illnesses start to show. It is crucial to note that you are not showing symptoms suggesti ve of a heatstroke. Do seek medical att enti on immediately in such cases.