Not only does safe sex offer positive emotional benefits to you and your partner, it offers physical health benefits too. Regularly participating in safe sex is actually a part of a healthy lifestyle. As if you needed another reason to snuggle with your sweetie, read on to learn all the ways sex can help you boost your health.
Sex Strengthens your Immune System
Regular sex sessions increase levels of immunoglobulins (IgA) by 30 percent. IgAs are important antibodies in the blood that can help protect you from seasonal illnesses like colds and flus. Having sex once or twice a week raises the level of immunoglobulins (IgA) in the body, increasing your natural ability to fight colds and flu. If you’re prone to allergies, sex may be able to help there too. Research shows that sex reduces histamine levels in the body, which could help to ease the symptoms of hay fever.
Sex Can Reduce Your Risk of a Heart Attack
Research shows that having sex three times a week could reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke by 50 percent and that women who have at least two orgasms per week are 30 percent less likely to have heart disease than those who do not have sex regularly.
Sex Keeps You Fit
Yes, sex can actually count toward your physical fitness goals. Even a 20-minute session can burn 200 calories, the equivalent of running for 15 minutes on a treadmill. See? And you thought all workouts had to be boring.
Sex Lowers Your Blood Pressure
That relaxed feeling you have after sex is not just in your head. Research shows that sex can lower systolic blood pressure levels, offering you another heart-healthy benefit.
Sex May Ease Menstrual Symptoms
Many women report that having sex before their period begins helps to ease menstrual pain in the days that follow. Science supports this theory, as muscle contraction that occurs during sex helps to release the tension in uterine muscles that causes menstrual pain. With a little bit of pre-planning, you can take the edge off your period cramps, no OTC meds necessary.
Sex Boosts Your Libido
More regular sex sessions will help to improve your libido and help ensure each session is more enjoyable. Women who have frequent sex benefit from increased lubrication, blood flow, and elasticity, which helps to improve comfort and enjoyment.
Sex Improves Sperm Quality
For men, studies show that regular sex improves the quality of their sperm. Only 10 days without sex can lower sperm quality, which is why couples hoping to conceive may be able to improve their odds with regular sex sessions.
Sex Improves Bladder Control
Sex helps to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which are responsible for avoiding incontinence, a condition that affects 30 percent of women at some point during their lives.
Sex Boosts Anti-Aging Hormones
That’s right. Forget expensive wrinkle creams. Sex can actually help you look younger. Sex boosts levels of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) to five times their normal levels.
Sex Can Lengthen Your Lifespan
Research shows that having sex at least twice per week may increase an individual’s lifespan by three to eight years, which means couples with a healthy sex life give themselves a better chance to have more time together.
Remember, while there are many health benefits to having regular sex, there are also risks involved if you don’t follow safe-sex practices. To maximize your health benefits and lower your risks, be sure to use protection, know your partner’s health history, and avoid other risky behaviors.
Individuals living with type II diabetes live their lives balancing on a dangerously thin line. They must constantly monitor their blood, manage symptoms, and try to manage the lifestyle choices that impact their health. If you or a loved one are suffering from type II diabetes, then you know all too well about the day-to-day struggles of this often-avoidable disease. The good news is that there are choices you can make that will help to lower your risk and help you to protect yourself from this damaging, and potentially deadly condition.
What is Type II Diabetes?
Type II diabetes is a condition that causes glucose, or sugar, levels in the blood to rise to abnormal levels, a state known as hyperglycemia. In addition, individuals with type II diabetes do not produce proper amounts of insulin, the chemical that helps to regulate glucose levels, leading to further complications. According to Healthline, 29.1 million Americans suffer from diabetes, yet 8.1 million may be undiagnosed or unaware of their condition. That means more than one in every ten adults age 20 or older have diabetes. These staggering numbers underscore the need for education, and self-awareness, to help reduce the number of new diagnoses each year.
Type II Diabetes Risk Factors
Type II is the most common form of diabetes. You may be at an increased risk of developing type II diabetes if you:
- Are overweight
- Have an immediate family member with type II diabetes
- Experienced gestational diabetes during pregnancy
- Have already been diagnosed as being prediabetic
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high cholesterol
How to Lower Your Risk for Type II Diabetes
Living a healthy lifestyle, which includes staying active and maintaining a healthy weight, are essential to lowering your risk for type II diabetes. Experts suggest that to minimize your chance of developing the disease, you should follow the tips below:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a serious risk factor for type II diabetes. If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about a weight-loss plan that will work for you.
- Stay active. An important part of any plan to maintain a healthy weight needs to include regular physical activity. The average adult should get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. If you are not currently getting enough exercise, talk to your doctor about how to get started.
- If you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes, monitor your glucose levels. Six to 12 weeks after your baby is born, your doctor will want to test your blood glucose levels. If levels are still too high, your doctor may diagnose you as having type II diabetes. If your levels are normal, your doctor will likely want to continue testing your glucose levels every three years to ensure you have not developed the condition.
- Breastfeed your newborn. If you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes, your doctor will likely suggest that you breastfeed your newborn. Doing so will help ensure your baby receives proper nutrients and will help you burn calories.
If you believe that you may be at risk for developing type II diabetes, do not wait to talk to your doctor. He/she can help you put together a plan to start making the types of lifestyle changes that can help you lower your risk and maintain your overall health.
If you’ve ever had a yeast infection, then you know it’s an incredibly relentless, uncomfortable, and painful condition, and you likely would do anything to avoid a future diagnosis. If you now live in fear of the itch down there, know that not all feminine itching is related to yeast infections. There are a variety of factors that can cause itching and discomfort. In fact, 25 percent of the time when women visit their OBGYN suspecting they have a yeast infection, lab results indicate there is no infection to blame. Read more about some of the factors that could be causing your discomfort, and how to avoid them.
Dermatitis, or Inflammation of the Skin
If what you’re experiencing is an itching of the exterior vulva and not any internal itching, you may have a case of dermatitis or an inflammation of the skin. Causes of dermatitis can vary, and may include shaving with a dull razor, wearing tight pants, or keeping your sweaty gym clothes on too long post-workout. Avoiding these triggers is as simple as swapping out your razor when the blade becomes dull, choosing more loose-fitting clothing, and showering and changing promptly after your workout.
Harsh Beauty Products or Regimens
The cleansing or beautify products you use could be drying out your skin, or causing an allergic reaction that’s triggering the itching and discomfort you feel. Any products used around your vaginal area should be free of fragrances and as natural and ingredient-free as possible to avoid irritation. Check the labels of the products you use daily, and consider if a more natural solution may be available. In addition, if you’re douching, it could be drying out and irritating your vagina. Avoid douching products to help ensure you’re not stripping away natural lubricants.
As women age, their estrogen levels naturally lower, which could alter the pH balance of your vagina. When this happens, your vaginal walls tend to thin and dry, resulting in itching, irritation, and pain, especially during sex. If you are premenopausal, talk to your OBGYN about possible supplements or prescription medications that may help balance dipping estrogen levels.
Your discomfort may be related to your sexual activities. A new lubricant (or not enough), could be causing irritation. Avoid lubricants that use alcohol, an ingredient that causes irritation in some women. You could also be having a reaction to the latex in your condoms and may want to switch to a latex-free brand.
It’s possible that your itching and discomfort may be caused by this common vaginal infection, which is caused when an overgrowth of the vagina’s naturally occurring bacteria results in inflammation. You may be at an increased risk of bacterial vaginosis if you regularly douche, or have unprotected sex. Your OBGYN will be able to provide a diagnosis and an antibiotic to treat the infection.
In more serious cases, your itching could be caused by something even more concerning than a yeast infection. Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a parasite that is becoming increasingly common. Symptoms for women include an odorous vaginal discharge, genital itching, and painful urination. Trichomoniasis can be treated, but you’ll need a diagnosis from your doctor and a prescription for an antibiotic. Like most STDs, trichomoniasis is spread through sexual contact, so the best way to avoid contraction is to follow safe sex practices.
How to Ease Your Itchy Symptoms
If you and your doctor have determined that your vaginal itching is not caused by an infection, a simple DIY remedy can help to ease symptoms. Apply a bland, soothing balm with no active ingredients, such as petroleum jelly, or coconut oil to the problematic area (external only of course).
Remember that the underlying cause of your itching could very well be a yeast infection or early signs that one is developing. If you’ve never been diagnosed with a yeast infection in the past, but have concerns one may be to blame for the discomfort you’re experiencing, make an appointment to see your OBGYN ASAP.
Reasons Women Experience Low Libido
When you’re not in the mood, you don’t feel like you. Feelings of self-doubt can add stress and insecurity to your already complicated emotions as you start asking yourself, “What’s wrong with me?” Don’t let such questions impact your self-esteem. There are a variety of reasons why women experience low libido, that doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not they are a good partner. If you’re worried that you may not be in the mood for sex as frequently as you once were, read on for common explanations for this change in desire.
What’s Wrong with Me?
Before you start to worry that what you’re experiencing is not natural, know that there is a very real explanation for feeling a loss of libido. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is the most common form of sexual dysfunction in women. It is defined as a deficiency or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity that causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty. HSDD is a condition experienced by 30 percent of women ages 18 to 59, which means you’re not alone in feeling an unexplainable loss of desire.
What Causes HSDD?
There are a variety of mental and physical factors that cause HSDD:
- Low testosterone levels.
- Some medical conditions, such as endometriosis, fibroids, thyroid disorders, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease (CAD), and some neurological diseases.
- Certain medications such as antidepressants, blood pressure lowering medications, oral contraceptives, and some anti-seizure medications.
- Pregnancy, having recently given birth, or breastfeeding.
- Recent surgery, especially a procedure that impacted your breasts or genital tract.
- Depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions.
- Peer pressure.
- Pressure to meet unrealistic sex standards set by pop culture or the media.
- Personal beliefs.
- Poor body image.
- Low self-esteem.
- History of physical or sexual abuse.
- Overconsumption of alcohol.
- Use of recreational drugs.
- Interpersonal relationship issues.
- Partner performance issues.
- Poor communication of sexual needs.
- Sexual problems such as difficulty orgasming or pain during sex.
How do I Know if I’m Experiencing HSDD?
Symptoms of HSDD may include:
- Lack of sexual thoughts.
- Lack of sexual desire.
- Distress or relationship issues caused by lack of sexual thoughts or desire.
Can it be Treated?
The good news is that thanks to recent advancements and research, there are treatments available that have been proven effective in helping to kick-start the female libido. The type of treatment that will be most impactful for you will depend on the woman and the factors impacting her HSDD, however, proven treatment options include:
- Testosterone therapy.
- Changes to prescribed medications (note: always talk to your doctor before making any changes to your prescription medication usage or dosage).
- Sex therapy/relationship counseling.
- Treating underlying medical or mental health issues.
If you feel you may be experiencing HSDD, or if you have any questions or concerns regarding your sexual desire, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you understand the underlying factors impacting your libido and can help you determine the treatment plan that’s right for you.
Last week, actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced she has breast cancer in a post on her official Twitter account saying, “1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one”.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes. While we have made significant strides in breast cancer treatment options, the safest way to protect yourself from this deadly disease is through awareness and early detection. As we spend the month of October wearing pink ribbons and reflecting on those we’ve lost, and those who have persevered, take the time to familiarize yourself with the latest breast cancer screening guidelines. By following a regular routine of administering self-exams, and receiving recommended screenings from your OBGYN, you will put yourself in the best position to help us continue the fight against breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines
According to the American Cancer Society, the frequency with which women should obtain a breast cancer screenings from their OBGYN is dependent upon age. More specifically:
- Women ages 40 to 44 are recommended to receive a mammogram annually if desired.
- Women ages 45 to 54 are recommended to receive a mammogram annually.
- Women 55 and older are recommended to receive a mammogram every two years but may continue to receive annual screenings if desired.
In addition to mammography screenings, women should also perform routine self-breast exams. Regular self-examinations help women ensure they are familiar with their breasts so that if any abnormality develops, they can identify the change and make an appointment to be examined by a doctor.
Women with a personal, or a family history of breast cancer are recommended to receive more frequent screenings. If your mother, sister(s), or grandmother(s) have been diagnosed with breast cancer, talk to your OBGYN. He/she will help you determine when to start receiving regular mammography screenings, and whether or not an MRI is also advisable to test for abnormalities.
Other Risk Factors
In addition to your family history, your doctor will need to have an understanding of other factors that could increase your risk of breast cancer and that may impact when you should begin receiving breast cancer screenings, and with what frequency. Such risk factors may include:
- Your age. A woman’s risk of a breast cancer diagnosis increases with age, particularly up until age 50.
- Childbearing history. The older a woman is when she has her first child, the greater her risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. Women who never have children are also at a greater risk of developing breast cancer.
- Menstruation history. Women are at a higher risk of breast cancer if they menstruated for the first time before age 12 or if they go through menopause after age 55.
- Genetic factors. Women with a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your personal risk of breast cancer, talk to your OBGYN. He or she will be able to discuss your personal risk factors and will help you to determine a routine screening frequency plan that is right for you.
The Reasons Why Women Should Strive for 10,000 Steps Per Day
It seems that everywhere you go these days, you hear increasingly more men and women talking about the total number of steps they’ve taken that day. They’re checking their fancy wrist gadgets—pedometers, fitness trackers, smart watches—as they strike to reach what must be a magic number: 10,000 steps. Is it hype? Is it healthy? How does your body benefit from 10,000 steps? Why not 10,001 or 9,999? What makes 10,000 steps the Goldilocks of fitness goals? The truth is there is some science behind the 10,000-step goal, making it more truth than hearsay. Learn what 10k every day can do for you, and why it’s time you started counting your daily steps too.
Why 10,000 Steps?
Studies show that increasing one’s walking habit to 10,000 daily steps results in important health benefits. It’s important to keep in mind that while 10,000 is the goal most researchers suggest for the average American, if you are not active today, any increased amount of walking, stepping, or jogging will benefit your health. Still, 10,000 steps is an obtainable goal for the average adult and it’s a number that has an intrinsically motivational power over us.
Benefits of 10,000 Steps
Adults who reach 10,000 steps per day have been known to benefit from:
If 10,000 steps seems far too unobtainable based on your work or family responsibilities, know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, which may include brisk walking. The CDC’s 150 minutes translates to about 7,000 to 8,000 steps, which may feel more reasonable to some and still meets recommended health goals.
How to Reach the 10,000-Step Milestone
If you’re ready to take the 10,000-step challenge, but aren’t sure how to achieve such a lofty goal, know that the 10,000-step achievement can be reached more easily than you may think. The average adult already walks about 6,000 steps per day through normal activity. To strive for 10,000, simply begin adding extra walking sessions to your normal routine. Start by adding an extra 30 minutes of brisk walking into your day. That alone will start you off with around 8,000 steps. You can achieve your 30 minutes before work by walking your dog, by taking your kids for a walk around your neighborhood, or even getting off the subway one stop early and walking the rest of the way to your office.
Invest in a Tracker
If you’re set to take on the 10,000-step challenge, you’ll want to invest in a pedometer or fitness tracker. You don’t need the most expensive model on the market, but you will need a tool to help you keep track of your daily step progress. (Many smart phones have apps that will also track steps.)
Remember, even if after a few weeks, you find you’re struggling to reach 10,000 steps, the most important thing is that you are getting up and being active. Any improvement in your activity level is an improvement for your health and wellbeing. If you have any questions regarding the amount of exercise you should be receiving, talk to your doctor.
As your newborn begins to drift into sleep, his worries simply melt away. For moms, however, worrying about your baby never ends, even when he’s sleeping. The frightening reality is that if not properly positioned in a safe environment, your baby could experience an accidental injury while sleeping—or worse, a complication that leads to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). To keep your new addition safe all through the night, review the following newborn sleep safety tips.
Sleep Positioning and Environment
How your baby is positioned for sleep is extremely important for his safety.
- Put your baby to sleep on his back on a flat, firm surface, like a crib or a bassinet. Your baby should sleep on his back until he’s one year old.
- Do not put your baby to sleep on a soft surface such as a waterbed, sofa, or soft mattress.
- If your baby’s crib is near a window, remove any dangling window cords, or any nearby electrical wires, as they could cause a choking hazard.
- Dress your baby in light sleep clothes, such as a blanket sleeper. Infant sleepwear should never include any drawstrings, ties, or hoods, and should not cover baby’s head.
- Keep the room at a comfortable temperature. If baby is overheating, his chest will feel hot to the touch.
- Give your baby a pacifier to help protect against SIDS. Do not hang the pacifier around your baby’s neck or attach it to clothes or toys.
Make sure to use a crib or bassinet that meets current infant safety standards.
- Don’t use cribs with drop-side rails.
- Do not use portable bed rails. They may not prevent your infant from rolling out of bed, and may pose a risk of choking, or trapping.
- Don’t try to fix a crib that has broken or missing parts. Replace it with a new, reliable model.
- If using a crib mattress, cover it with a tightly fitted sheet.
- Only use the mattress designed for your baby’s crib or bassinet. A safe product should be designed so that the bed fits tightly inside the crib with no spaces, and the mattress should be firm and not dip in response to baby’s weight.
- To minimize the risk of suffocation, strangulation, or other dangerous situations, do not put toys, soft objects, loose bedding, or crib bumpers in the crib.
Do Not Bed-Share
If you have other little ones, or were blessed with multiples (such as twins or triplets), put each baby to bed in his own crib. Do not bed-share. That also means it’s important that you not put your infant in your own bed with you. Bed-sharing is the most common cause of death in babies under three months old. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), your baby should sleep in your room and near your bed, but not in your bed for the first year of his life.
Try to regulate your newborn’s sleep. Baby will need about 16 hours of sleep per day, and will likely take it in three- to four-hour sessions. Baby’s sleep habits will likely correspond to his need to eat every few hours. Proper amounts of food and sleep will help keep him less agitated and fussy.
Talk to Your Baby’s Pediatrician
If you have any questions about your baby’s sleep habits, or about infant sleep safety, speak to his doctor. He/she can answer any questions and guide you toward healthy practices so you and your baby can both sleep soundly.
Hashimito’s disease is the type of condition that can slowly sneak up on you without warning. It poses serious risks for women, as its signs and symptoms may not initially be felt, seen, or sensed. Improve your knowledge and awareness of this dangerous, and often undetected disease, so you can give yourself the best opportunity to avoid a delayed diagnosis.
What is Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, primarily impacts middle-aged women. It is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system creates antibodies that attack your thyroid gland—the small gland at the base of your neck. Your thyroid gland is an essential element of your endocrine system, as it produces hormones that coordinate many of your bodily functions. Hashimoto’s diseases typically cases inflammation of the thyroid, which can lead to complications of hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland).
Causes and Risk Factors of Hashimoto’s Disease
The causes of this autoimmune disease are not known. Some scientists believe Hashimoto’s disease may be caused by a virus or bacterium, while others believe it may stem from a genetic flaw. Factors that may impact your risk of Hashimoto’s disease include: gender, age, and heredity. More specifically, women are more likely to be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, and while the disease can impact men and women of any age, it is most likely to impact middle age adults.
If members of your family have been diagnosed with a thyroid or autoimmune disease in the past, you also may be at a greater risk of Hashimoto’s disease. Other factors that may increase your risk include having been diagnosed with another auto immune disease, such as lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis, or having been exposed to excessive amounts of environmental radiation.
Signs and Symptoms
Hashimoto’s disease typically progresses slowly over many years, causing chronic thyroid damage. Many of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease go undetected, and typically mirror those of hypothyroidism. Talk to your doctor if you experience any of the following common symptoms:
- A swelling at the front of your throat (known as “goiter”)
- Memory lapses
- Muscle aches and stiffness
- Joint pain
- Increased sensitivity to cold temperatures
- Dry, pale skin
- Brittle nails
- A puffy face
- Hair loss
- A swollen tongue
- Unexplained weight gain
If you’re diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, your doctor may recommend treatment with synthetic hormones. Daily hormone replacement therapy may help if you are experiencing thyroid hormone deficiency. Use of daily synthetic hormones may be lifelong, though your doctor will likely regularly check your levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to monitor the proper dosage.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you have questions or concerns about Hashimoto’s disease, or believe you may be experiencing hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor. He/she can help you better understand your risk factors, or provide a diagnosis.
As a new mom, you’re worried about every little aspect of your new little one’s development. Is he sleeping enough? Is he warm enough? Is he eating enough? If you’re breastfeeding, the question of how much breast milk your baby needs can feel difficult to manage. If most of your baby’s feedings are at the breast, it can feel impossible to track how much he’s really eating. To help you demystify the most common breast milk consumption questions, we’ve outlined guidelines and tips to help you ensure your baby is getting just the right amount of breast milk each and every day.
How Much Breast Milk Does an Infant Need?
Between months one and six, an average-sized breast-feeding baby will consume about three ounces of breast milk. This many seem like a small quantity, but keep in mind that your baby should be eating every few hours.
How Frequently Should You Breastfeed?
Your baby will likely be hungry every hour and a half to every three hours. Never go more than four hours in between feedings, even overnight. To track your feedings, count the length of time between when your baby begins to nurse, to when the next session starts again, rather than starting to count time when one session ends.
Infants should be breastfed eight to 12 times per day during month one. During month two and beyond, your infant should nurse seven to nine times per day. Talk to your OBGYN about your baby’s unique needs. He/she will be able to help you further refine your breastfeeding schedule.
How Frequently Should I Alternate Breasts?
It’s important to alternate breasts during feeding sessions to ensure your milk supply is maintained in both breasts. Try to give your baby the same amount of milk from each breast during each feeding session. The amount of time a baby needs to spend with each breast will vary from case to case. As a best practice, try to switch breasts when you feel your baby is about half way through a feeding session, and alternate which breast you offer first at the start of each session.
What are the Signs my Baby Wants to Nurse?
When your baby is hungry, he will let you know. Crying is not the only sign of hunger. In fact, it’s a late sign, and you’ll be better off feeding your baby before he becomes hungry and fussy. Signs that your baby is ready to nurse include:
- Sticking out his tongue
- Opening his mouth
- Moving his head from side to side
- Nuzzling against the breast
- Making a suckling expression with his mouth
- Placing his fists to his mouth
What are the Signs my Baby is Full?
You’ll know your baby has comfortably had enough breast milk when his sucking becomes slow, or he simply turns away from the breast.
How Long Should Each Breast Feeding Session Last?
Every mom-baby pair is unique, so talk to your OBGYN or baby’s pediatrician if you have questions or concerns regarding the average length of a breastfeeding session. Such factors that may impact the time it takes your infant to breast feed may include your milk supply, your let-down reflex (which causes milk to flow from the nipple), and if your milk typically flows quickly or more slowly. In general, babies become more efficient eaters as they get older, so your breastfeeding sessions should begin to go faster as your baby ages.
Talk to Your OBGYN and Your Baby’s Pediatrician
For any questions that you may have about breastfeeding your infant, whether it’s at day one, or 101, talk to your doctor. He/she will help you ensure your baby remains healthy, happy, and comfortably full.
Western New York may be known for its epic winter storms, but the summer heat can be just as dangerous. As we reach the peak of hot summer months, it’s important to understand the dangers of such heat-related conditions as sun poisoning, sunstroke, and dehydration. Learn the risks associated with these conditions, and how you can protect yourself and your family while enjoying the final days of summer.
The Threat of Heat-Related Illnesses
Heat-related illnesses pose a threat to adults, seniors, and children any time you’re exposed to abnormal or prolonged amounts of heat and humidity without adequate fluid intake or relief. If not properly treated, heat-related illnesses can cause serious health complications, and in the most devastating cases, even death.
Dehydration can occur when your body doesn’t have enough water. Without proper hydration, your body can not properly function. On hot summer days, you lose more water than usual from sweating, especially if active. If the fluids you lose are not properly replaced by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water, you place yourself at risk of dehydration.
Symptoms of mild dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, only urinating a small amount, urine that is a dark yellow color, headache, and muscle cramps. Symptoms of more severe dehydration may include no urination at all, very dry skin, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, fatigue, and fainting.
If you believe you may have mild to moderate dehydration, stop any activity and rest. If you’re outside, seek shade or a cool, air conditioned area. Remove excess layers of clothes, prop up your feet, and drink a rehydration drink such as water, juice, or a sports drink to replace fluids. Prevent dehydration before symptoms occur by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after any activity or long-term heat and sun exposure.
Sun poisoning is an extreme case of sunburn. Symptoms initially appear the same as a sunburn, but can escalate quickly to include swelling, large blisters, headache, fever, dizziness, nausea, dehydration, and fainting. Individuals with pale skin, especially redheads, are particularly susceptible to sun poisoning in summer months. To avoid sun poisoning, wear protective clothing. Apply and reapply an SPF of at least 15 or 30 throughout the day, seek shade, and avoid being exposed to the sun during the hottest parts of the day.
If you believe you may have a serious case of sun poisoning, seek medical attention promptly. If you feel your symptoms are less severe, you can consider taking ibuprofen to ease the pain, applying cold compresses made of equal parts milk and water to damaged areas, and most importantly, hydrating.
Also often referred to as heat stroke, this heat-related condition is the most severe heat-related illness. When your body’s heat-regulating system is overwhelmed by excessive heat, it poses a life-threatening emergency. Immediate medical care should be obtained. Symptoms of sun stroke include warm and dry skin, a high fever (typically over 104 degrees), rapid heart rate, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and headache.
If you believe you may be experiencing sun stroke, call for emergency medical care. If you cannot call for assistance promptly, move to a cool place to rest. Remove excess clothing, drench your skin with cool water, and fan your skin. If you have ice available, place ice bags in your armpit and groin areas. Also, be sure to drink cool fluids.
To avoid sun stroke, stay protected from the sun, wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, and seek shade when outdoors. Dress in lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothing. While being active outdoors, take frequent breaks, hydrate frequently, and cool skin with cold water.
While we all want to maximize our enjoyment of warm summer days, it’s important to not spend too much time outside in the sun and heat, especially if you’re being active. Make sure to stay hydrated, avoid being outside during peak sun and heat hours, wear appropriate clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat, and seek shade whenever possible. By following these tips, you can enjoy summer days, without the risk of illness. If you have any questions or concerns about heat-related illnesses, and your risks, talk to your doctor.