If You're Over 65, Never Do These 4 Things on a Hot Day, CDC Says
You're more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses as you get older.
Over time, it may feel as though you're just not able to withstand the heat as well as you could when you were younger—and that's not just your mind playing tricks on you. As you get older, your body is not able to adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature, making it much more likely for you to fall victim to heat-related illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To help prevent this, the CDC advises older people to avoid doing certain things when the weather gets hotter. Read on to find out the four things you should never do on a hot day if you're over the age of 65.
Older people are more likely to have medical issues that affect their body's response to heat.
A hot day can affect anyone, but older people are at higher risk than most. According to the CDC, people over the age of 65 are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes how the body normally responds to heat. This includes age-related changes to the skin such as poor blood circulation and inefficient sweat glands, as well as heart, lung, and kidney diseases, per the National Institute of Health (NIH).
The CDC says that people this age are also more likely to be taking medications that affect the body's ability to control its temperature or sweat. According to the NIH, this includes medications such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, and certain heart and blood pressure drugs. Both these medical conditions and medications put people over 65 more at risk for developing a heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
There are four things the CDC recommends people over 65 avoid on a hot day.
When you're older, it's imperative that you stay cool and hydrated in hot weather to avoid heat-related illnesses. The CDC says this requires avoiding four mistakes that could make you and your home even hotter: relying on a fan as your main cooling source, waiting to drink water until you're thirsty, using your stove or oven to cook, and engaging in strenuous activities.
According to the CDC, an electric fan will not prevent heat-related illness once the temperature is in the high 90s, and both the stove and oven can add heat to your entire house. Waiting to drink water until you are thirsty and engaging in strenuous activities on a hot day can also make it harder for your body to cool down, putting you at risk for dehydration.
"If your doctor limits the amount of fluids you drink or has you on water pills, ask them how much you should drink during hot weather," the agency recommends.
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There are also ways you can make yourself cooler if you become too hot.
If you need to cool down, the CDC recommends changing into loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing, taking cool showers or baths, and getting plenty of rest. If you need to go outside, sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses will also prevent you from becoming dehydrated.
You should do your best to stay in air-conditioned buildings when it's hot outside. "If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library—even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat," the CDC says. If this is not an option, "call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area," the agency advises.
Watch out for any symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
You should have a friend or relative call to check on you at least twice a day during a heat wave if you're over the age of 65, according to the CDC. They can help monitor you for heat-induced illnesses, which could result in confusion, lost consciousness, or even death. Some common symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke include heavy sweating, headache, dizziness, nausea, fast pulse, clammy skin, and muscle cramps. If you think you or someone else is having a heat stroke—which is indicative of a body temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher—you need to call 911 right away, as this is a medical emergency that can result in death. The CDC says that more than 600 people are killed by extreme heat in the U.S. ever year.