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Health

NHS in Cumbria urges people with long term conditions to take care in the sun

There has been an increase in cases of people with COPD and heart conditions accessing A&E services in north Cumbria due to the heat.

This is because the higher temperatures can, and does, exacerbate the symptoms for people with long term conditions such as these.

Cumbria, like the rest of the UK is experiencing high temperatures that are set to continue to the weekend and further.  NHS services are urging anyone with long term conditions like COPD or heart conditions to take particular care during this hot spell.

Although most of us like warmer weather, higher temperatures can cause as many health problems as colder temperatures. In particular, people must be careful not to leave children or vulnerable people exposed to high temperatures or strong sunlight for prolonged periods of time, whether outside or inside a car.

Dr. John Howarth, Deputy CEO at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Heat said: “Exhaustion can have a serious effect on normally healthy people, meanwhile for vulnerable people such as babies, older people and those suffering from chronic conditions the symptoms can be severe. Extreme heat can make heart and respiratory problems worse and in some cases, excess heat can lead to heatstroke which can be fatal.”

Heatstroke is a serious condition that occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature due to excessive heat. Normally the body controls its own temperature through sweating and shivering, but high temperatures of over 40 degrees, can cause our internal thermometer to fail and for people can become dehydrated.

The symptoms of heatstroke include; confusion and disorientation, visual hallucinations, muscle cramps, unconsciousness, headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, a racing pulse, flushed, hot and dry skin and a sudden rise in temperature.

A few tips to protect yourself if you’re at home:

  • If it’s cooler inside than out, shut and shade your windows.
  • If it’s hotter inside than out, open windows for ventilation and try to get air flowing around the home.
  • If you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat or you have a pre-existing medical condition try not to go out in direct sunlight between the hours between 11am – 3pm.  However, the maximum temperature on a hot summer day almost always occurs after 3pm, typically between 4pm and 5pm.
  • Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water or fruit juice to stay hydrated, but try to avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.
  • If you’re going outside, stay in the shade, wear a hat, cool, covering clothes and apply sunscreen.

If you’re going on holiday or on a day out make sure you’re prepared especially in case of being stuck in extreme temperatures in a car or train:

  • Take plenty of fluids, preferably in a cool bag.
  • Pack a hat for everyone and enough sunscreen (and apply regularly).
  • Make sure that any available air ventilation is working.
  • Take regular breaks allowing both the driver and passengers chance to move about and get some fresh air.
  • If anyone remains in the car make sure it is not for a prolonged period and ensure they have access to ventilation and fluids.
  • Do not leave children unattended in a hot car.
  • Do not leave pets unattended in a hot car.

For more information on how to cope in hot weather visit the NHS Website.

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