After what feels like 20 consecutive days of Excessive Heat Warnings, the high temperatures might just start to get the better of you. But what to do when you get weak in the knees and you feel like you can’t breathe?
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. In case of doubt, seek medical advice immediately!
- Find yourself a “nurse”
If the high temperatures have really knocked you out and you feel unable to go on with your day, don’t act the hero. Go home and seek assistance, since you might not be able to properly take care of yourself: You might even slip or fall pottering around on your own whilst suffering from hypotension and dehydration. Therefore, don’t be afraid to ask a family member, a friend or your better half to help you out or to at least check in on you via the phone if they can’t be around.
- Rehydrate. Rehydrate. Rehydrate!
It goes without saying that on days where you sweat out your bodyweight in water, you need to drink loads and loads of water: 3 litres would not be excessive. But the longer the temperatures hover above the 30°C mark, the harder drinking enough water becomes. No wonder that so many of us find ourselves dehydrated eventually! When you start to really suffer from the heat, when breathing becomes difficult, you feel giddy, listless and/or even queasy, start by drinking half a litre of mineral (!) water within 5 to 10 minutes every half an hour for two or thee hours. Don’t drink too much at a time, because your water baby might make you feel even more sick. Besides giving your body back the liquids and minerals it lost in transpiration, drinking water also increases blood pressure and thus relieves the feeling of dizzyness you might be experiencing.
- Let your body recover
Ideally, stabilize your blood pressure by laying down flat with your feet raised on a cushion and no pillow under your head, to help blood flow back to your head and chest. If you are still at work (which might not be a good idea…), at least rest your feet on a chair. By all means resist the temptation to “kick-start” your circulation with a hot or cold shower: Full body showers are just too much stress for body right now, and you might slip and severely injure yourself. Footbaths however are ideal to stimulate the cardiovascular system without overstraining it: Soak your feet in warm water (36-38°C) for five minutes, then plunge them into a bucket of ice water for 20 seconds. Repeat two to three times and keep your feet warm afterwards. However, do not start clambering about in the bathroom with buckets of water yourself! That’s what your nurse is there for 🙂
- Ease breathing
The suffocating feeling might be one of the most unpleasant aspects of feeling overheated. Without air conditioning, there is hardly anything you can do about this sensation, but a fan (even a hand-held one!) might help with the impression of not being able to breathe. Dabbing a small amount of a menthol- and/or camphor-enriched lotion onto your temples, neck and chest can also ease breathing: I find Tiger Balm to be perfect for such purposes. If you don’t have it in your home medicine chest anyways, ask your “nurse” to go and get it for you: It is easily available in drugstores and pharmacies. A cool, wet cloth on the side of your neck will not only help with feeling overheated: It also has an influence on your baroreceptors (receptors that sense the blood pressure and relay the information to the brain), thus increasing your blood pressure by making your blood vessels tighten.
- Gather new strength
Oftentimes, summery feelings of weakness are not only due to the heat itself and to dehydration, but also to undereating and the chronic lack of appetite we are experiencing at high temperatures. However, getting some energy back is all the more important once the heat has gotten the better of you. Try some coke to help with your lack of energy, your low blood pressure and also with slowed digestion (at that point, you might actually wish you had hired a deaf nurse #TMI-Alert)! High-caloric snacks like crackers might not be good for you on a daily basis, but they are ideal on such occasions because even small quantities provide you with a lot of energy: Salt also increases your blood volume and thus helps with your low blood pressure.
All these tips should make you feel better within a few hours to a day. If syndromes persist or worsen however, or if you are unsure whether they are related to the heat at all, seek medical assistance immediately! And as for the rest, don’t worry: Winter is Coming 😀