As temperatures soar, there's no doubt that we're hurtling towards the hottest month of the year. It's also a good time to pay especial attention to your health. Here are ways to beat the blazing heat
The most practical advice that anyone will give you during the onset of the summer months is to stay constantly hydrated, wear light cotton clothing and to avoid the blazing fire ball in the sky as much as possible. But navigating a particularly harsh summer--as this one has every indication of being--ideally requires greater awareness and protection. Here are some tips that will help.
Allergy Alert: Your skin glows most months of the year, but when the heat descends on the city, it may become a red, splotchy mess. Heat allergies are not uncommon during these intensely hot months; boils and rashes often erupt all over the body. If you're very sensitive to the heat, you may even develop migraines and other related conditions. "To prevent all this, sudden exposure to the sun from a cool environment should be avoided," says Dr. Rakesh Tandon, Medical Director, Pushpawati Singhania Research Institute (PSRI Hospital), New Delhi. "When you do go out, cover your head and face. Exercising should be relegated to the early mornings or late evenings. One particularly interesting way of dealing with sun burn (and rashes) is to drink a spoon of onion juice (crushed raw onion). It has potent antioxidants that can neutralize the cellular damage caused by the sun's rays."
Be wary of water and food borne illnesses: It is the season in which water is scarce. As a result, one should be wary of a consequent compromise in dish-washing and general hygiene, especially while eating out. "Water and food borne diseases are common during the summer months. As a result, food poisoning and water borne diseases like acute gastroenteritis, typhoid and dysentery occur more often in summers than in winters. In addition to maintaining personal hygiene, people should avoid eating cut fruits or drinking fruit juices or water from roadside vendors," says Dr Tandon.
Pep up with Potassium and other micro-nutrients: "Potassium is an important mineral that helps us beat the heat," says Nutritionist Neelanjana Singh, Heinz Nutri Life Clinic, Delhi (www.hnfi.org). "Sodium and Vitamin C rich foods can also help us cope. Sodium helps to replenish the salts that are lost through sweat. The foods that are important for maintaining good levels of Sodium, Potassium and Vitamin C are all seasonal fruits and vegetables like coconut water, mint, lemon, bael or wood-apple (vizhampalam in tamil), cucumber, watermelon and raw mango. We would need to take 5 servings of these fruits and vegetables in addition the the regular diet to reduce body heat. " Be sure to stock up on this seasonal produce for you and your family on your next marketing trip. "Bitter gourd enhances sluggish digestion and chutneys made with raw mango can be included to make the diet interesting. Drinks with fennel (saunf), rose-water and mint will definitely help you keep your cool."
Fluid rich fruits will also ensure that you stay hydrated, even if you hate to drink water too often. "Vary your diet with vegetables and fruits that are rich in water content such as radishes, lettuce, lime, grapes and oranges," says Dr Tandon.
Eye Care: Eye care is so essential during a harsh summer and yet, it is often neglected. Most people think that sun glasses are to make a style statement, and yet, it has a much more practical application--it can protect you against terrible ailments that affect the eyes due to heat exposure. "Intense heat exposure can lead to ocular burn, cataracts, macular degeneration (when you lose central vision, often causing of blindness), cancer and pterygium (a fleshy growth on the cornea). Infra-red and ultraviolet radiation present in high temperature sources is responsible for eye damage," says
Dr Sanjay Dhawan, Director HOD – Ophthalmology, Fortis Hospital, New Delhi. "To protect your eyes from intense heat always opt for sunglasses which cover the entire eye area, avoid being in (direct) sunlight. Rose water is a good coolant for eyes with no harmful side effects and can be used by children, adults and the elderly alike. So if you feel itchiness or stress in the eye area, use 2 drops of Medical grade Rose Water or simply Tears Naturale Eye Drops. It can also be used as a preventive regimen during over-exposure to pollution or heat."
Regulate the air-conditioning: It may be tempting to spend all your time indoors, in the comfort of an air-conditioned environment, but this too can dry out your eyes and cause severe secondary infections. "Avoid long hours in air conditioning, but if you must spend time in a climate controlled environment, be sure to lubricate your eyes well with medicated eye drops recommended by your doctor," says Dr Dhawan.
Remember, heat stroke is a debilitating condition that is more common than you may think but vigilant care can go a long way in ensuring that everyone stays safe and enjoys a relatively comfortable summer.