Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke

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Heat exhaustion occurs when a person loses too much water and salt due to a combination of extended exposure to the heat and failing to stay adequately hydrated. If a person fails to cool their body temperature, heat exhaustion can turn into a life-threatening condition known as heat stroke. 

Heat stroke is where the body loses its ability to control its internal temperatures and the body no longer has the ability to sweat. When in situations of extreme heat, pay close attention to young children and the elderly as they are at an increased risk of developing heat exhaustion, heat stroke or dehydration.

Staying Hydrated in the Heat
With this hot weather it is important to keep our bodies hydrated as heat related illness can alter our body’s performance and place it under strain to the point that emergency care is required.

Signs of dehydration are: dry mouth, thirst, headache, fatigue, dizziness, light headiness, fainting and infrequent urination.


 Tips to stay hydrated in the heat are:

  • Reduce or eliminate the amount of caffeinated, carbonated & alcoholic beverages consumed
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Take a reusable water bottle with you and use it throughout the day (if bottle after bottle of water seems bland, try adding a little extra flavor with lemons, limes or fresh berries).
  • If you plan on exercising don’t just drink beforehand, hydration should occur long before physical activity
  • If you normally don’t, try to include a glass of water with every meal
 
Nutrition: Vitamin D
Essential for promoting calcium absorption and bone growth, vitamin D helps prevent rickets in children and protects older adults from osteoporosis. Vitamin D also plays a role with immune function and reduction of inflammation.
 
Pop quiz! Can you name three food sources where vitamin D is naturally present? You can earn bonus points if fish liver oils were the first answer that came to mind. In reality there are very few foods that naturally contain the fat-soluble vitamin D. Small amounts can be found in beef liver, cheese and egg yolks. Most people actually meet their vitamin D needs through sun exposure. When ultraviolet (UV rays) strike the skin this triggers the synthesis of vitamin D. Keep in mind direct exposure to sunlight and UV rays (including tanning beds) needs to be limited as UV radiation is a carcinogen and is linked to age-associated dryness and in more severe cases metastatic melanoma.
 
Vitamin D is available as a supplement and in fortified foods (cereal flours and orange juices). Research is also indicating that vitamin D may have a therapeutic role in preventing diabetes. Other studies are indicating that vitamin D may help in alleviating symptoms of depression, especially in the winter months. 
 
Did you know: UVB radiation is not able to penetrate glass, meaning sun exposure through a window does not produce vitamin D? 
 
Groups at Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency
  • Breastfed Infants – Vitamin D requirements cannot be met by breast milk alone
  • Older Adults – aged 50+, cannot synthesize Vitamin D as effectively
  • Populations with Limited Sun Exposure – northern latitudes or homebound individuals
  • Individuals with Fat Malabsorption – since vitamin D is fat-soluble there needs to be some dietary fat in the gut for absorption.
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