Every season has its perks and drawbacks. While Spring comes with pollen and other minute particles that can trigger your asthma or hayfever symptoms, Summer comes with its own hazards. Too much of anything can have a negative impact and too much sun can have some serious consequences.
Updated: Friday 11 December 2020
Heat stroke, also known as sunstroke is one of the more severe consequences of heat exposure. However, there are other heat-related illness including fainting and heat exhaustion as the body suffers from a combination of dehydration and exposure and is unable to regulate the body temperature correctly. Keep hydrated and when in direct sunlight, make sure you protect yourself by wearing a hat.
When the temperature increases, it makes you sweat as your body tries to keep you cool in the hot weather, which unless you replace this lost fluid, you will be severely dehydrated. In order to prevent this, you have to increase your intake of water and ensure you also have enough electrolytes to replenish the levels of sodium and potassium lost in sweat. Both elements are needed for proper brain, nerve, and muscular function.
The main electrolytes are:
- Sodium - essential for neural function and nerve communications, impacts blood pressure
- Potassium - needed for muscle contraction, bone health, heart and blood pressure
- Chlorine - helps to regulate the levels of electrolytes, pH and is needed for digestion
- Calcium - needed for bone and teeth health and for blood clotting, has a role in nerve impulses and muscle function
- Magnesium - boosts the immune system, regulates heart rhythm, contributes to DNA production
- Phosphate - this mineral strengthens the teeth and bones, tissue growth and repair
- Bicarbonate - needed for heart function and maintaining a regular and healthy body pH
UV rays can cause skin cancer as well as dehydrating the skin which eventually causes a loss in elasticity, one of the major factors in premature wrinkles. Make sure you wear sunscreen at all times. Even if you are not in direct sunlight, or if it is a cloudy day, dermatologists recommend that you apply sunblock everyday.
Also, if you are planning to spend your day in the sun, it is essential to choose a sunscreen that has SPF 30 or higher and a UVA rating of 4-5 (the stars at the back of the bottle that indicate protection from UVA rays) and apply it to all the exposed areas every 2 hours. Remember that moisture and sweat can remove the sunscreen, so if you are in a humid region, or you are swimming, you’ll have to reapply every half hour to prevent bad sunburns that will turn your skin an unseemly lobster-red characteristic of UVB-cooked skin.
Handbag essentials for Summer:
- Suncream - SPF 30 can cover both the days spent in the sun (apply frequently) and those days with more clouds than sunshine.
- Electrolytes - you can buy electrolytes tablets to dissolve in water. Otherwise, there are ready-made electrolyte drinks on the market including Gatorade, Allsport, Accelerade, and Cytomax.
- WATER - If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. You should be drinking a minimum of 2 litres per day, more if it is hot or you are exercising. Fainting, wilting tourists and Londoners alike tend to forget it. The London Underground has booming reminders to bring water with you but it cannot be stressed enough. Always have a bottle of water with you wherever you go and fill it whenever you can. Remember that in some restaurants and shops, they will allow you to refill your empty bottle for free and they normally have drinking fountains in museums and busy streets in the City.
Unfortunately, soft drinks are no good as they are all sugar and caffeine but no electrolytes.
Authored by Iris Barbier
Born in France, Iris moved to the UK to study Biological Sciences at London Metropolitan University. Upon graduating, Iris moved up north, where she completed an MA in Science Journalism at the University of Lincoln.
As a qualified science journalist, Iris uses her expertise to write content for Pharmica’s online Health Centre. She ensures our patients get specialist knowledge on medical conditions and how to treat them.