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MERCURY RISING! - 9 Golden tips to beat the heat this Summer

Summer is approaching fast and so does the problems arising due to rising heat. In hot summer months when the temperature soars around 45+ degrees, it is really a concern. With global warming and reduction of green cover, it's really a point of concern for us city dwellers. When skyscrapers are elevated in the name of development, the cool shade of a tree is what is missed often. So, the body temperature creeps up gradually or suddenly due to a malfunction in the internal heat regulation mechanism of the brain, the body goes into a crisis leading to hyperthermia.

Usually, the normal human body temperature ranges between 35.5 degree Celcius to 37.5 degree Celcius (95.9 degree F to 99.5 degree F). Hyperthermia (hyper – high, thermia- temperature) is characterized by a rise of body temperature beyond 40 degree C or 104 degree F. In this condition a person needs immediate medical attention and help. The worst sufferers of this condition are children and people above the age of 65 years. People with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart ailments, and weak lung kidney and liver along with metabolic problems should take ample precautions as they are also at risk of dehydration during the peak summer months.

We need to understand and accept that we cannot fight with nature. We need to modulate our own lifestyle and diet to keep cool this summer. So, we will discuss the problems first that might hit us during the summer and then delve in solution of it. Needless to mention the below 3 conditions are often interchangeably used.

1. DEHYDRATION: Our bodies are composed of 70% of water and with rising temperature, water and salts are quickly depleted from the body. Dehydration causes a shift in the equilibrium of essential salts like sodium and potassium, thus leading to electrolytic imbalance. The symptoms include extreme thirst, muscle cramps, and spasms, nausea, dizziness, drying of mouth, fatigue, lightheaded feeling, etc.

2. HEAT EXHAUSTION: This condition is a precursor to HEAT STROKE, which is a life-threatening condition. Symptoms include rapid pulse, heavy sweating, cold or clammy flushed skin, pale appearance, thirst, loss of consciousness, disorientation, and signs of dehydration mentioned above.

3. HEAT STROKE: is an extreme body condition where all of the symptoms of dehydration, heat exhaustion along with rapid full or weak pulse, blurred vision, lack of coordination, fainting, seizure, organ failure, and in extreme cases even death.

In such conditions self-awareness and some simple and handy tricks can help you wade through the rough weather.

The first line treatment for such thermal onslaught is based on the symptoms and usually includes removal of the cause or removing the affected person from the heat, cooling of the head and body, and replenishment of fluids orally or immediate medical attention with the shifting of the person to the hospital whereby by virtue of infusion of electrolytes and fluids through the vein is given along with other life-saving measures.

How to deal with such condition before landing on the hospital bed?

1. Hydration on the go : Plan your outside activity and check the amount of heat exposure for the day. Keep a bottle or two of water mixed with salt and sugar solution. Instead of sugar, jaggery can be used. Buttermilk mixed with mint, lemon leaf, and ginger can be an excellent elixir of thirst.

2. Get Natural: Avoid drinking too much carbonated drinks as you are increasing the acidity in the body. Instead sugarcane juice or fresh juice can be a good substitute. Fruit juices from wood apple (Bel), mango, guava, watermelon, grapes, pineapple mixed with goodness of gooseberries (amla) flavored with rock salt, pepper, jaggery, cinnamon, and cardamom can really be a very refreshing magical potion. Light buttermilk flavored with mint, coriander, ginger, and roasted cumin is better than sweet yogurt (lassi) due to its easily digestible qualities. Tender coconut water is like the mother of all drinks as it is loaded with electrolytes.

3. Take cover: The tip is to save the head from overheating. This will prevent the natural heat-regulating center in the hypothalamus to cool and maintain the correct body temperature. Carrying an umbrella is no shame and can help a lot to say bye to the overpowering heat.

4. Splash water and wash face, neck & arms: When you get a chance, wash the face, neck, and exposed body parts with cold water. It is refreshing as well as it will help to overcome darkening and also sunburns. Splashing cold water to the eyes can take off excess heat off the weary eyes.

5. Go slow on tummy: Since the appetite is low in summer, nutrition takes a back seat. Include liquid diet like barley water, porridge (Dalia / khichdi), fresh veggies can be taken in the diet. Cow ghee or clarified butter is preferred over heavier buffalo ghee.

6. Gel Power: Usage of aloe vera gel to treat tanning and sunburns is well known. Water mixed with neem (Indian Margosa) leaves can be used for bathing and prevention of prickly heat.

7. Ayurvedic therapies like oil baths once a week or taking Navarakkizhi (rice bundle massage) can be very useful. In doing oil baths, the skin is toned, moisturized and the pores become free of excess oil. Navarakkizhi can do a beautiful scrubbing of skin along with the moisturizing effect of milk and herbs help the body to cool and enhance natural glow and sheen.

8. POWER HERBS: A simple mix of 2 part Brahmi, 1 part Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera), 1 part Tulsi (Indian Holy Basil), and ¼ part Vetiver can be powdered and kept in a glass bottle. Take 1 cup of milk and 3 cups of water. Add one tablespoon of this mixture and boil the same till 1 cup of milk remains. Strain the mixture and add jaggery/palm candy to taste. It will enhance the flavor and supercharge you with energy for the whole day. It has anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, immune-boosting and general well being benefits as well as is soothing by nature.

9. Fragrance for good health: Essential extract of lavender, Kewda, Sandalwood, Tulsi, Cardamom, Rose, Jasmine, etc., can be really soothing and pleasant and if applied in morning can really boost the mood for the day and keep you refreshed throughout.

So, with the above simple remedies, let the power be you and may you sing happy summer songs and be well.

The author is Dr. Danny Devasy, an Ayurvedic Consultant with over 16 years of experience.


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