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What to do about the heat
The thermometer is approaching the 40 degree mark. People with high and low blood pressure, old people and sick people suffer especially, as do babies. Even healthy people who work outside, travel long distances by car and cannot make them heat-free need additional protection.
Why is there a lot of heat?
With sweating, the human body has a natural cooling system. The greater the heat, the more the skin vessels are dilated and the more sweat the glands emit. It evaporates on the surface of the skin, keeps the skin cool, and the temperature in the body remains stable.
However, if the heat is too great and lasts too long, or if there is high humidity in addition to the heat, the body's own cooling is not sufficient. There is a build-up of heat and we suffer because we have lost too much moisture through sweat. It can be dangerous! Especially if you already have cardiovascular diseases.
Sweat - a system with deficits
Evolution is never perfect, it always “works” with the available material. Our cooling system, sweating, also has major weaknesses. When we sweat, we not only lose moisture, but also minerals. Excessive sweating therefore leads to a lack of important substances such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, selenium, zinc and chromium. This lack results in difficulty concentrating, drowsiness, exhaustion and headache.
You can counteract the loss of water and minerals: drink plenty of mineral water, isotonic drinks (they contain exactly the minerals that are lost when you sweat) and / or use broad-spectrum mineral supplements as a powder. Drink vegetable broth! It contains many of the nutrients that are lost through sweating.
How much to drink
At moderate temperatures, our body needs around 1.5 liters per day. If it is very hot, this requirement increases up to three times. A rule of thumb for desert tours in the Sahara or Sonora is: don't drink until you feel thirsty. At extreme temperatures, it is almost too late and the first signs of dehydration appear.
Once these first signs are there, it goes damn quickly: you lose your sense of direction, you go black in your eyes, you can no longer think clearly, tire, get hallucinations, headaches and pain in the body.
Therefore, do not drink sporadically by the liter, but continuously smaller amounts. Provide a jug of water all day and take a glass approximately every hour. If you don't drink for hours, but then a lot at a time, the body cannot absorb everything and most of it is eliminated. Also, don't drink too much in the evening. That disrupts sleep.
By the way: Even if the temptation is great, you can enjoy the drinks lukewarm instead of ice-cold. The drop in temperature costs the body energy that it urgently needs. In hot countries like Morocco, people therefore drink traditionally warm mint tea. It is also one of the favorites in Germany for drinks under the sun's glow.
Limit the enjoyment of coffee and black tea and choose herbal teas, fruit teas or spritzers with elderberry syrup instead. Fruit spritzers are also great.
What causes heat stress?
You will notice that the heat will overwhelm you when you feel exhausted, sick, and react aggressively without the trigger justifying it. You become apathetic and dizzy, dizzy and have a headache - especially on the forehead and temples.
Risk of driving a car
Driving a car at outside temperatures above 30 degrees is associated with dangers. Inside the car, the temperatures (without air conditioning) can easily reach 70 degrees. The heart is racing now, so you tire quickly and feel dizzy. They react more slowly to what is happening on the road, almost as if they were drunk. In the heat, a fifth more accidents occur than usual!
You should ventilate well during car tours in summer by opening windows and car roof. Take more breaks on long journeys than you usually do. Hold your forearms and face under running cold water at rest areas. Take enough mineral water, isotonic drinks, fruit tea or fruit spritzer with you on the trip. If possible, drive at night and early in the morning.
In high heat, you should eat lightly and avoid fat, difficult to digest calorie bombs. Foods rich in water and vitamins such as fruits and many vegetables are ideal. In hot countries, people swear by watermelons.
The heat falls in this country in the time of berry ripening, earth, raspberry, bromine, sting, blueberry and currant berries contain vitamins and minerals to a great extent, including those that are lost when sweating. Berry smoothies, berry juices, berry desserts, cold fruit bowls with berries or fruit salads with berries are ideal for summer.
You can also "drink" the food: soups and fruit cold dishes are great for the heat! The cold Gazpacho tomato soup is a national dish in Spain with good reason. A vegetable broth full of minerals quickly becomes a "real" soup with broccoli, onions, celery and carrots and lunch in the hot season. Older people and the chronically ill should eat the soups warm, not hot. The body then does not use any additional energy for temperature compensation.
You should eat ice-cold dishes slowly! Ice cream, for example, is best warmed up in your mouth before swallowing.
Good summer dishes are: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, Romaine and lamb's lettuce, pears, apples, quinces, cornel cherries, the fruits of the rock pear, elderflower, dates, passion fruit, mango, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefuits, nectarines , Peaches, plums, figs, pineapples, khakis, pomegranate, kiwis, bananas, whale and hazelnuts, almonds, poree, spring onions, water and honeydew melons, grapes, all berries, coconuts (the meat like the juice and the pulp) and all types of cabbage.
It is also important to eat food that contains a lot of salt, for example raw ham with its pickling salts. Fat pork, high-fat sauces, rich potato dishes, high-fat sausages and high-fat cheeses are badly suited.
In hot countries, people usually wear long-sleeved shirts and dresses, cut loose and in a light color. This prevents heat build-up. Cotton is hardly suitable because it absorbs sweat. They then walk around with a wet t-shirt all the time. If the wind comes up, the muscles stiffen. Viscose, Tencel and Lyocell are more suitable.
If the sun is strong, you should cover your head! The cowboy hat from the Western was not designed to look particularly masculine, but was intended to protect the workers from a sunstroke in the blazing heat of summer in the Plains.
If you spend a lot of time outside, you should also protect your neck. The American term “rednecks” for country eggs comes from the fact that the rural farmers could be recognized by their neck, which was burned red by the sun. This poses the risk of developing skin cancer, for example.
Avoid physical stress
The circuit has to deal with the heat enough. If you are now effectively exercising or working physically in the heat, you are putting additional strain on it. If possible, shift the sport to the early hours of the morning.
Leave the heat outside
Ventilate the apartment at night and in the morning and lower the blinds or blinds during the day. This keeps the temperature inside tolerable.
If you are not lying on a quarry pond, you should provide relief in the meantime. You can run cold water over your forearms or bathe your feet. This narrows the vessels and temporarily strengthens the circulation.
Shower cool or lukewarm, not ice cold. In the worst case, the circuit would otherwise collapse due to the temperature shock. In milder cases, at least headaches are the result. In any case, you sweat not less, but more.
One thesis assumes that the alcohol ban in Islam is due to the conditions of the Arabian desert, where religion originated. In fact, the consequences of drinking alcohol are much worse in heat than in moderate temperatures. Alcohol widens the blood vessels, and the circulatory system has less blood that it urgently needs when it is hot. The kidney is running at full speed, they are losing even more vital fluids and minerals. When you drink alcoholic beverages over heat, the body does not absorb liquid, but loses it. In the evening, when the temperatures drop, you can easily drink a glass of wheat beer, which now supplies you with lost nutrients.
You should not use air conditioning systems uncritically. If the air flow hits the body with full force, the muscles contract at these points, a cold can be the result - or a muscle spasm. If the airflow hits the eyes, headaches are a possible consequence or an inflamed conjunctiva. People in hot countries are familiar with the phenomenon of "summer cough", usually a result of air conditioning systems running at full capacity.
As with the ice-cold shower, the difference between the outside temperature and the air conditioning should not be too great, otherwise the heat will be relentless!
Pay attention to medication
If you take medication regularly, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. This is especially true in summer for agents that lower blood pressure. Because the heat also lowers your blood pressure, which can lead to you falling below a critical level.
Caution is required with St. John's wort. Not because of the heat itself, but because of the sun. If you take St. John's wort, you should provide sun creams with higher sun protection, put on a sun hat and generally avoid the open sun.
Tips and Tricks
People from hot countries know a lot of tricks to deal with the heat. There are also some unconventional ideas.
- If you wear loafers, you can put the insoles in the fridge overnight. For a while you will have cool feet during the day.
- Regardless of whether you work outside or in the office: put cooling elements in the freezer beforehand and take them with you to the job. In between, place them from time to time on particularly heated areas.
- Sleep! It is not only the Spaniards who take care of the siesta, people in Iran, Morocco and Egypt also escape the hottest hours by sleeping and dozing. Of course, this only applies if it is possible at work.
- Spray! What is good for your houseplants can also be used for yourself. Pour cool water into a spray bottle and spray it on your face if it becomes unbearable again.
- The beautiful subjects that you get as souvenirs from Spain and Italy, for example, have a practical function. You fan cool air with it. You don't need any space and can keep you cool in almost any situation.
- Put your legs up in between! Heat pushes blood pressure down and this can strain the veins. To compensate for these complaints, lie down on a sofa, put your legs up or stand on your toes from time to time.
- Go for a swim or a swim! If necessary, fill your bathtub with cool water and sit in it.
- Go in the shade! When you are outside, go to a forest where the temperatures are lower. If you are in the city, go to the countryside, where the temperatures are three to five degrees lower. If neither is an option, at least sit under a tree with a protruding crown.
- Avoid the car wherever possible and sit on the bike instead!
- Cover the bed with satin. That cools!
- Rub the skin with ice cubes, put your fingers in ice water and use it to wet your temple.
- Hang damp cloths in front of the open windows when ventilating. This cools the incoming air. You can also wrap yourself in damp cloths.
(Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
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- David Tanen: Heat Exhaustion, MSD Manual, (accessed August 20, 2019), MSD