The UK temperatures have now been high for some time and are set to increase again over the forthcoming weekend. Great news if you enjoy spending time out and about in the sunshine but prolonged increases in temperatures can lead to health complications for those most at risk.
Over 65s, young children and those with heart and lung conditions can really struggle in the higher temperatures. High temperatures, both indoors and outdoors, can also pose a risk to everyone’s health over such a sustained period. The sunshine also means more people are heading outside which has seen an increase in GP attendances and calls to NHS 11 for minor sporting injuries, sunstroke, sunburn and insect bites.
Dr Kieran Murphy, Medical Director, NHS England, Lancashire & South Cumbria said : “Most people in the UK welcome summer and the opportunity to enjoy some sunshine, but the extended period of heat can really take its toll on even healthy individuals. If you fall into an at risk category the temperatures can mean an increase in serious health complications.
“Listen to your own body and try to keep an eye on elderly relatives and neighbours – if you or they are suffering with any symptoms, such as dizzy, weak or intense thirst and headache, call NHS 111 free for advice, or pop into your local pharmacy.
“It can be difficult to sleep in hot temperatures but you can reduce heat in rooms by keeping the curtains closed whilst the sun is on it and opening a window later on for fresh air. It can sometimes be cooler outside than in so step out to cool down later in the evening.
“Dehydration can be a problem for all ages in the intense heat. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and carry a bottle with you if you are travelling or out and about. Ice lollies can help cool you down without adding too many calories to your daily intake’
“Ensure you apply suncream regularly if you are outdoors. SPF 30 upwards is recommended, higher if you have fair skin. This will help prevent sunburn and skin damage later in life”.
“Don’t overdo it in the heat. That full game of outdoor football you usually play may have to be cut shorter and children may need to take some time to relax to ensure they don’t suffer from heat exhaustion”. If watching football is more your style then you may be looking forward to a big match that is happening this weekend, whether you are celebrating or commiserating, keep an eye on the amount of alcohol you drink. In hot weather, alcohol can lead to dehydration so make sure you’re also drinking plenty of water.”
The Met Office alert has now been upgraded to level 3. This means that heatwave thresholds have been exceeded e.g day and night temperatures and the duration of the spell.
By being aware of the symptoms that heat can cause and taking a few simple steps to look after yourself you can enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.