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The heat

Two years ago, very high and prolonged temperatures were recorded in the summer that were not usual in our environment.

Heat, especially when associated with humidity (which is the case here), further increases the risk of mortality. In the last two summers and according to health sources, high temperatures caused the death of 35 people. Visits by the elderly to the emergency room in summertime increase by 20-25%.

The people who accumulate the most risk of death or illness are the elderly, the very young, the mentally ill, Alzheimer's patients, immobilised people, cardiac and respiratory patients, to which we should add patients with fever or people who are overweight.

Heat first provokes a loss of liquids and we have to know that ageing causes a difficulty in regulating the response to heat.

When perspiration systems act more than the body is used to, they end up weakening the body.

We will find ourselves in two situations:

A/ Heat exhaustion: in which there is an increase in sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, nausea, rapid and weak pulse associated with headache.

B/ Heat stroke: in which there is already an increase in temperature, red or dry skin, lack of perspiration and a state of confusion or unconsciousness.

If the main users of health services are the elderly, we must be able to reorientate and adapt the services and needs of the elderly because they are the main users of the health system.


  1. Never leave anyone in a closed car, even for a short time, especially children, the elderly or animals. Be careful with animals tied up in the house without access to fresh places, without shadows or without ventilation.
  2. Drink liquids between 2 or 3 litres a day, especially water and juice. An ideal drink can be oral saline, homemade saline or sports drinks. Do not drink alcoholic beverages, with caffeine or excess sugar. They should not be too cold either, as they cause stomach pain. You should drink without being thirsty and this is a piece of advice that should be extended to all Gerontological Centres that have people in a situation of immobilisation or with neurodegenerative diseases.
  3. If there is intense activity, it should be concentrated at the beginning or end of the day. Shopping should be included in this activity.
  4. Frequent breaks in any activity.
  5. Clear, light and loose clothing. Avoid fibres and basically use cotton (the denser the better). It is important to cover your head.
  6. Photo-protection: in general, 50+ protection on the face and 20-40 on the body. Wear approved sunglasses during the periods of greatest risk: between 12 and 5 pm.
  7. Eat lightly and frequently. Rich in salads, fruit and yoghurt. Eat five small meals a day containing fruit and vegetables, avoiding fried foods and sausages because they are rich in salt and, as well as causing thirst, can increase body sweating and fluid loss.
  8. The refreshing bath or shower should be done slowly and without sudden temperature contrasts, especially during periods of digestion: a prudent time could be two hours.
  9. Check frequently how children and elderly people are doing, especially if they are alone or dependent.
  10. Consult a doctor if there are risks between the medication and the heat that the elderly person takes: diuretics, hypotensives, antihypertensives in general and medication used for psychosis or sedatives. All these drugs can make our organism somewhat lazy in its responses to hyperthermia.
  11. If symptoms of exhaustion appear: go to a cool, shady place, rest and drink liquids.
  12. During the day close windows and darken the house, open and air the house in the evening and at night.
  13. The fan can help to cool us down by moving air.
  14. If the heat is repeated, the option will be to enter the culture of home air conditioning. In any case, we must be alert to use community facilities, especially cinemas, restaurants, shopping areas, savings banks, banks... that have air conditioning.

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