Mumbai: Summer is the time when you go out with your family for vacation; create some great memories, an ideal time for relaxation, outdoor adventure, excursions and many more. In order to make the most of it, we all need to incorporate some changes in our lifestyle and adapt to new habits. Soaring temperatures can bring changes in the body and functioning of various organs. A quality personal regimen and awareness can make summer enjoyable.
Challenges heat causes:
The effect of heat and exposure to sun can cause dehydration, affect skin, eyes and internal organs.
Loss of water through sweat is a major setback that leads to the loss of electrolytes and may cause various damaging effects.
Skin – exposure to sun can damage the skin and can cause sun burn, rashes and other such things. The damaging effect of ultra violet rays, UVA and UVB can bring about changes at the cellular level while repeated exposure can cause destruction.
It can also cause mutations in DNA bringing bout changes in cell morphology and cause specific cancers as well. Tanning is an increased production of pigment melanin by the skin cells to protect the DNA. Excess tanning is sign of sun damage and accelerates skin aging.
Internal organs: Body temperature is balanced and controlled by the thermo regulatory centre in hypothalamus where the normal body temperature is 36.8 degree C/ 98.2 degree F. Any derivation in this phenomenon can cause hyperthermia, the uncontrolled body temperatures that exceed body’s ability to lose heat without a change in the hypo thalamic set point. Exposure to high temperatures also causes constriction of small blood vessels.
Release of certain chemicals (prostaglandins) cause muscle cramps and joint pains while dehydration causes reduction in blood volume, increase in heart rate. Blood supply to the organs reduces and results in various problems and the renal functions are affected, one of them being urine concentration causing urinary tract infections.
In extreme cases all the organs are affected and can cause death. So it is imperative to take precautions while you enjoy summer. Humidity is an important factor that affects the way body reacts in high humid weather; sweat does not and temperature control mechanism is disturbed.
Eye care – avoid exposure of eyes to direct sunlight, as the UV rays are known to damage the cornea, cause keratitis, accelerates the development of cataract and age related macular degeneration. Chronic exposure can cause cancer.
How to take care:
Hydration: The most important part of summer care is staying hydrated. Human body has 55-60% water and therefore, it is essential as all cells need water for performing their functions.
Adequate water, at least 3 - 4 litters per day is necessary to maintain body functions. Sports need to take extra care, as there is accelerated water loss and electrolyte disturbance. Fresh fruits, juices, coconut water, butter milk and electrolyte solution all are helpful. Avoid very cold drinks.
On the other side, the advantage of sun exposure is that skin produces vitamin D which is necessary for bone health. Fruits and vegetables provide anti-oxidants, vitamins and adequate nourishment. Dark chocolate, berries, melons and citrus fruits all are helpful.
Clothes - Thin cottons, light coloured clothes which allow air circulation are helpful.
Eye care- Avoid looking up in to the sun directly .Wear sun glasses which protect the eyes from UV rays while in outdoors. Prevention of dryness of eyes in older individuals is essential, artificial tears can be used if necessary.
Rubbing the eyes is prohibited as there is increased dust during summer and chances of infection also increase. Good eye care habits should be inculcated from childhood ,such as encouraging use of protective goggles in swimming pools to avoid contact with chlorine , washing eyes with cold water , and keeping them clean at all times.
Exercise - Moderate regular physical activity keeps heart function, and regulates metabolism. Light clothing, adequate, regular water intake with minerals during exercise are important in maintaining hydration and electrolyte levels.
Skin - Maintaining skin moisture, with sunscreen lotion with SPF of at least 40 will help from the effect of sun damage. Regular washing with water and applying sun screen at least half hour before going in to the sun and every 2 - 3 hrs in outdoors will provide adequate protection. Sun glasses to protect the skin around the eyes and a hat should be carried all the time. Also wash once you are indoors with normal water.
So these are the tips that you can include in your daily lives and ensure that you stay healthy and fit this summer, without compromising on the daily sunshine to keep you going. Happy summer to you!
* Disclaimer: This article has been contributed by Dr Sujatha Varalwar, Pathologist, Health and Lifestyle Coach and Nutrition Consultant. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Deccan Chronicle, and Deccan Chronicle does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same....