How to prevent heatstroke and keep yourself smelling fresh too!

The Good Life Letter

Sunday, 22nd May 2011 

  • Find out how to cope with the serious threat of heatstroke
  • A few natural ways to make life smell sweeter

"It's just Dad's junk!"

This from the mouth of a babe, well he's 14 now, but should know better.

My beloved family often complain about the stacks of papers which line my office.

They aren't junk! They are the tools of my trade, my archive... my pearls of wisdom.  My most treasured possessions - these reports, trials data and technical sheets are what I use to illuminate my Good Life Letters.

Without them I wouldn't be able to bring you information such as this:

Were you aware last year that our new cabinet were deeply concerned about our welfare, and even went so far as to issue warnings about a national phenomenon?

And after the last few weeks we probably need to take heed of their belated warnings...

Their concern for heatstroke!

Now before you all start grumbling about the lack of warmth in 2010, we did in fact have a very warm May period which started the rumours of a BBQ summer, if you remember?

And this year has started just the same way.

Heatstroke hits when your body becomes unable to control its temperature. In effect, your body heat gallops up, causing your sweating 'machinery' to get overworked and leaving your body unable to cool down.

And that's no laughing matter. It can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.

Symptoms of heatstroke include an extremely high body temperature (above 103°F/39°C) red, hot and dry skin, rapid pulse, a pounding headache, dizziness, nausea and confusion.

If heatstroke hits, find a cool place, preferably somewhere with air conditioning. If that's impossible, head for the shade. Sit down, loosen clothing and douse your head and body with COLD water.

In addition you should sip cool, non-alcoholic, decaffeinated drinks. Don't be fooled by the adverts into thinking that you would benefit from a long cold beer - that would only make things worse, as alcohol dehydrates you.

And stay quiet! Impossible for me, according to Lara, but I'm sure rest of you can manage it.

Those most susceptible individuals to heat strokes include:

  • Infants and small children whose cooling systems are less efficient
  • the elderly (often with associated heart diseases, lung diseases, kidney diseases, or who are taking medications that make them vulnerable to dehydration and heat strokes),
  • People suffering from diarrhoea, who are more likely to become dehydrated
  • People from cooler climates travelling to hot countries, whose bodies need some time to adjust to the heat and humidity.
  • Atheletes and individuals who work outside and physically exert themselves under the sun.

Another cause of heat stroke is dehydration. A dehydrated person may not be able to sweat fast enough to dissipate heat, which causes the body temperature to rise.

Obviously the weather has it's part to play in this, but the real problems occur when our body's normal cooling systems fail.

Chief amongst these is sweating - something that we all think of as gross, but is actually a lifesaver.  But what about when sweating runs out of control?

Horses sweat, men perspire and women glow

Let's be honest about it, we all get a little hot under the collar at times, and can end up with a clammy armpit occasionally.

But for some folk the physiological processes of sweating is out of control.

Did any of you see the BBC programme a few weeks ago called 'Inside the Human Body'?

They discussed the effect of a condition called hyperhidrosis which they described as "Excessive sweating, either generalised all over the body, or only affecting certain areas such as the palms, soles or armpits, hyperhidrosis affects around one in 100 people of all ages and groups."

There may be a serious condition causing this problem such as diabetes, or liver disease so it is always worth consulting your doctor to check what can be done to help you.

However, for most sufferers it proves very difficult to control and the embarrassment badly affects the quality of their lives.

Often commercial antiperspirants and deodorants don't make a difference, and sometimes makes things worse. In the most extreme cases they undergo botox injections into their sweat glands which kills them off.

Strikes me as a treatment of last resort that one - it must leave the body vulnerable if it cannot produce sweat?

Natural ways to manage perspiration

As unlikely as they seem the following are reputed to be effective ways to reduce sweating, naturally:

  • Turnip juice: Grate a turnip and squeeze out the juice, which can be rubbed over the armpit and or used as a drink. The juice actually interferes with the way the sweat glands work and slow down the processes which secrete fluid onto the skin.
  • Sage Tea: An age old remedy dating back to the time of the Raj in India. Sage tea was taken twice a day in order to keep the English gentry cool and prevent them from sweating in their heavy linen clothing. Again it is thought that the tea slow down the way the glands work.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine & cigarettes: A no brainer this one, the chemicals they contain delay circulation or heighten anxiety and stress - all of which cause an increase in sweating.
  • Change your diet: For some people spicy foods can be the cause of excessive sweating, for others it may be too much meat. What is clear is that dietary intake can be very significant in making us sweat more.
  • Water: Perhaps slightly confusing, but if we drink plenty of water we allow our body to flush more of the waste products out in urine rather than have to get rid of them in excessive sweating.
  • Lemon Juice: Not effective to stop you from sweating but by rubbing half a lemon over the armpit you will kill off the bugs that cause the classic body odour associated with sweating.

Hopefully a few small changes will make a big change for you when the sun reappears.

Follow the advice on avoiding heatstroke, and make sure that you are not the most unpopular person on the train by using some simple ways to cut out the nasty niffs!

Yours, as always




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