Rx For Readers: Summer sun is not for Siberians

Drink water, wear sunscreen, keep cool and enjoy summer fruits and vegetables.

July 23, 2010 16:17
4 minute read.
Children need extra reminders about drinking water

Water 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

My family and I are new immigrants from Siberia, where we are not used to such hot summers as those in Israel. Can you give any advice on how to keep healthy in the heat? S.B. Haifa.

The TEREM urgent care clinic based in Jerusalem offers this advice:

Welcome! Drink water – tap water is fine – at least 2.4 liters of it a day. We use (or lose) water with every breath we take and every move we make. In addition, living in a hot, dry climate like Israel causes us to lose even more water, much more in the summer. Especially on hot days, drinks such as coffee, tea and sweet soft drinks cause your body to lose water. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to start drinking, as once you feel thirst, it means that your body is already starting to be dehydrated. Children need extra reminders about drinking water. If you drink bottled water, make sure the keep the bottles out of the sun and warm places. The sun or heat can cause chemicals in the plastic to leak into the water; these can cause cause health problems over time. To avoid this, fill metal canteens or glass bottles with water from the tap.

Protect yourself from the sun. While the sun is a good source of vitamin D, too much solar radiation can cause burns, skin damage and dehydration. Apply sunscreen to skin on your face, ears and any other parts of you that may be exposed to the sun 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside.

Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or after perspiring from exertion or bathing at the beach or in the pool. Also, avoid going outside in the direct sun during the hottest part of the day, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Keep cool! When the body gets too hot, it starts to shut down, and therefore cannot cool itself off. This is very dangerous and can lead to brain and liver damage and, if it is not dealt with, death. Do not under any circumstances leave your child in the car, as even if the window is open, the temperature in the car can be higher than the temperature outside.

Enjoy summer fruit and vegetables. Wash fruits and vegetables with water before you eat them. Not only do these foods taste good, but they are very healthy and can be very refreshing on a hot summer day. Eat safely. Bacteria are most active at warm temperatures. If they multiply in your food, they can make you and your family sick. Some foods, like mayonnaise, eggs, meat and cheese are more likely to spoil from the heat, but other foods such as lettuce and tomatoes can also carry bacteria. You can’t always smell or taste when the food has bacteria that will make you sick. Wash your hands often with soap and water.

Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Don’t eat food that has been left unrefrigerated for more than an hour.

Use your free time to do things together. Take walks with your children, or take them to the swimming pool and the park. Use your time with them in fun, active events to keep everybody moving and healthy. If it’s too hot, find active games that can be played inside or in the shade.

I am an 87-year-old woman and quite feeble. But my worst suffering is my constant dizziness, especially in the morning to noon hours when the temperature rises. It makes it almost impossible to think and act in an orderly fashion. A CT scan of my brain came out OK. The various specialists I consulted could not help me and neither could make a diagnosis. Does an expert have another idea? I.W., Haifa

Prof. Mark Clarfield, chief of geriatrics at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, comments:

“Dizziness” is a common symptom but it means different things to different people. Your doctor should explore what you mean by this word. In older people, it could be due to anything, but common things to rule out would be ear disease (especially if the symptom involves a sense of spinning – either of the person or of the world around her, which is called vertigo; falling blood pressure (often following overtreatment with medications); medications themselves – many have such side effects unrelated to blood pressure; anxiety and/or depression; and many other diseases. The best doctor to consult is one who takes your symptom seriously and could be your family doctor, an ear specialist, a neurologist or – probably best of all – a geriatrician.

Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting.

Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538- 9527, or e-mail it to [email protected]

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