Sun and heat – how do they threaten your health? The pharmacist explains

Pharmacist Ave Niidu. Photo private collection

What is the difference between sunstroke, sunburn, sun allergy and heat stroke? How to prevent and treat them? Ave Niidu, a pharmacist at the heart pharmacy, gives advice.

The heat wave has been going on for over a week now and shows no signs of abating. Most of us cannot function well in this kind of heat. In addition to discomfort, the sun and heat can also cause more serious health risks.

Sunstroke is caused by heat and light radiation

Sunstroke is caused by direct and long-term exposure to the sun on an uncovered head, which can lead to dilation of blood vessels in the brain. Sunstroke is caused by long-term heat and light radiation, not direct UV radiation. The main symptoms are nausea, vomiting, dizziness and headache, reddened face. The risk of sunstroke is greatest in young children and people with thin hair. To prevent this, a head covering should be worn and activities that require greater physical effort should be scheduled for the morning or evening.

People with fair skin are more at risk of sunburn

Sunburn is caused by the excessive effect of UV radiation on the skin. Fair-skinned people, especially redheads and blondes, are more at risk. The first signs of a burn appear within a few hours, and the burn usually develops within 24 hours. In case of a minor burn, the skin becomes red and dry. In case of a stronger burn, blisters are added. The skin is sensitive and painful. In more severe cases, chills occur and fever rises. A mild sunburn will pass by itself in 2-3 days, aloe gel can be applied to the damaged skin. In more severe cases, a special burn gel must be used. In case of fever and pain, paracetamol helps relieve the symptoms.

The sun can also cause an allergic reaction

Photodermatitis, popularly known as sun allergy, is a reaction of the immune system to sunlight. Fair-skinned people are most at risk. Sun allergy occurs most often as a red, itchy rash on exposed parts of the body – face, neck, hands. In case of intense ultraviolet radiation, the development of the reaction can take from half an hour to a few days. Sun allergy can be prevented and symptoms reduced by using a special sun protection cream, a wide-brimmed hat or hat and protective clothing are also helpful, and it is also recommended to avoid exposure to the sun during the most intense sun rays.

Heat stroke mainly threatens children and the elderly

With the arrival of warm summer weather, the risk of heatstroke and the resulting problems also increases. In our climate, it is a seasonal problem when the thermometer readings rise above 25 degrees. Depending on the person, the individual tolerance limit may be lower. Children and the elderly are more at risk. Children have a significantly smaller body surface than adults, and overheating occurs faster. The elderly have several co-morbidities and health concerns, which are also risk factors. At the same time, all people who stay in a hot and humid environment for a long time are at risk. For example, there is a risk of heatstroke when you overuse the steam in the sauna.

The main symptoms of a heat stroke are malaise, headache, dizziness, nausea, balance disorders, weakness, flickering in front of the eyes, body temperature can rise above 40 degrees, skin is hot and dry. In more severe cases, convulsions occur and the victim loses consciousness.

In case of heat stroke, the victim must be given first aid quickly: take the person to a sheltered and cool place, make him lie down and give him cold mineral water to drink. Water should be drunk in small sips and often. The head and body of a person suffering from heatstroke should be poured with cool water and continued cooling until the body temperature drops below 39 degrees. After receiving first aid, you should lie down until you feel better. The unconscious victim should be turned to the side position and an ambulance should be called.

There are no medications to prevent or treat heat stroke. In hot weather, you must stay in the shade as much as possible, wear a head covering and breathable clothing, drink enough water, because the body loses a lot of fluid through sweating, and physical work must also be limited. People who have to work outside in hot weather (road workers, construction workers, patrol officers) need to take a rest break every few hours and stay in a cool place – such as an air-conditioned car – and drink plenty of fluids.

Source: Lääne Elu by

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