The September heat and sun can still cause health issues

With the Met Office and UK Health Security Agency having issued an amber heat health alert for the East of England, the NHS Director of Nursing for Suffolk and north east Essex is reminding people that summer is not yet over, and we all need to continue to look out for the vulnerable and take sensible precautions to stay well.

The alert is valid until September 10, with the hottest day of the year predicted for this week.

Lisa Nobes (pictured below), Director of Nursing, NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, said: “Although we are now into September, we shouldn’t think the sun is less strong or the heat less intense. They can both still adversely affect our health which is why it is so important we continue to remain vigilant and take sensible precautions.

“Most advice on staying well during hot weather is common sense, although some people run a greater risk of harm, including older people, babies and young children and people with a serious chronic condition, particularly breathing or heart problems. So please look out for others.

“Dehydration in older people can cause dizziness and light headedness and is a major cause of falls and fractures. Older people often experience a reduced sensation of thirst, meaning they don’t realise they need a drink. This particularly affects those with Alzheimer’s disease or those who have suffered a stroke. Some medicines such as diuretics and laxatives may increase the likelihood of dehydration and those who are incontinent might limit their fluid intake. Preventing dehydration can be life saving.

“Family members and carers should be aware of the symptoms of dehydration which includes sluggishness, confusion, dizziness and dark urine. Don’t rely on an older person telling you they are thirsty, instead ensure they are having a drink at specific times of day whether they are thirsty or not. The recommendation is six to eight cups of fluid each day.

“When the weather is hot you sweat to cool down, meaning you lose more fluid than usual from your body. This can lead to a drop in blood pressure so your heart beats faster. If you have a heart condition it is important that you keep out of the hot sun, stay hydrated, eat cold foods and avoid too much exertion.”

“Babies less than six months should be kept out of direct sunlight and older infants should also be kept out of the sun as much as possible. Attach a sunshade to your baby’s pushchair, make sure your child wears a sunhat and apply a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to your baby’s skin.

“And please remember, if you use an asthma inhaler don’t leave it in direct sunlight or somewhere it could get hot, such as a car glove box. This could prevent it working properly.”

Other useful advice on staying well in hot weather can be found at the local Suffolk and North East Essex Wellbeing website HERE