Founded in 1975 by J. Mark Baiada, Bayada Nurses provides nursing, rehabilitative, therapeutic, hospice, and personal home health care services to children, adults, and seniors in the comfort of their homes. Located in downtown Westfield, Bayada Nurses provides a comprehensive range of home health care services to meet the needs of our clients 24 hours, 7 days a week.
During the warm summer months, it is natural to want to get outside and take advantage of the welcoming sunshine. However, according to Becky Seasholtz, Director for Bayada Nurses office in Westfield, for children and adults with disabilities, too much of a good thing, in this case, warm weather, can pose serious health threats.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat stroke happens when the body can no longer control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises fast. The body cannot sweat and in unable to cool itself. Heat stroke can cause death or disability if not treated right away. Warning signs include:
- Red, hot, dry skin
- Very high body temperature
- Confusion and irritability
- Strange behavior
- Rapid pulse
- Throbbing headache
- Rapid and shallow breathing
Heat exhaustion is a milder illness that happens when the body has lost too much water and salt in sweat. If it is not treated, it can turn into heat stroke. Warning signs include:
- Heavy sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pale and dark colored urine
“There are many reasons why people with disabilities are more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” said Seasholtz. “Certain medications can cause mouth dryness, increase sensitivity to the sun, change ability to reason, or impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature or perspire”.
According to Seasholtz, children with an impaired thirst mechanism may need additional fluids while in the summer sun. In addition, some children who are neurologically impaired cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to higher temperatures without significant effect on their core body temperature. These children should avoid outdoor activities during the heat of day. Efforts should be make to provide air conditioning in the bedroom, school busses and classrooms to avoid serious reactions to the heat.
“The heat can also have a negative effect on children with asthma or chronic lung diseases,” said Seasholtz. “During the heat of day, the air quality index can be poor, making it difficult for these children to breathe. Staying indoors in an air conditioned environment is important to keep these children healthy”.
Adults with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) should also avoid the strong summer sun. As heat and humidity increase, ozone levels increase, which can trigger asthma attacks and make it difficult for people with COPD to breathe. If possible, older adults should stay in an air conditioned environment during the hottest hours of the day, either at home or a public place such as a library, a mall or recreation center. Bayada Nurses can provide home health aides who can accompany older adults who have difficulty getting out on their own.
According to Seasholtz, there are certain medical conditions that can upset the body’s normal response to heat. These include thyroid diseases, high blood pressure, heart/circulatory problems, cancer, and chronic illnesses such as diabetes or lupus.
To avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke:
· Stay in an air conditioned area
· Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid drinks with alcohol, caffeine, or a lot of sugar
· Drink fluids at least 30 minutes before going outside
· Apply sunscreen SPF 15 or higher at least 30 minutes prior to going outside, even on cloudy days. Re-apply every two hours or after swimming or sweating
· Wear wide-brimmed hats, and light-colored, loose fitting clothes
· Eat more frequently, and be sure meals are well-balanced, cool, and light
· Avoid outdoor activities from 10am to 4pm, which is the hottest part of the day
· Use a buddy system by checking in on those who are elderly or who have a disability
If heat stroke is suspected, get medical help immediately by calling a physician or 911. Get the victim to a shady area and if possible, cool the victim off with a cool water or damp sheets. Only give the victim fluids by mouth if they have a normal mental state and can tolerate it. Direct air onto the person with a fan or paper. .
If heat exhaustion is suspected, give the victim cool, nonalcoholic beverages, a cool shower or sponge bath. Lay the person down, elevate the legs and feet slightly, and lossen the person’s clothing. Also, make sure the victim rests, and is moved into an air conditioned environment. If symptoms are severe, get medical attention immediately.
For more information on home care for children and adults with disabilities, call 908-789-1717.