August and September are notoriously hot and humid in Florida. Temperatures are expected to be in or near the 90’s almost every day. For people who like to exercise outdoors, temperatures can pose a risk of heatstroke.
What is Heatstroke?
Heatstroke happens when your body overheats and body systems begin to shut down. It can be life-threatening. Heatstroke usually follows heat exhaustion and is often preventable by paying attention to the signals your body is giving you. Prevention is the best defense against heatstroke.
What are the symptoms to look out for?
The first symptoms you may notice that your body is getting too hot are muscle cramps in the legs and abdomen, heavy sweating, fatigue, and thirst. A headache, dizziness, and nausea may occur. You might notice changes in your skin. It might be cool and clammy or flushed. You might even vomit. Some people experience confusion or disorientation. Some people even faint.
How do you prevent heatstroke?
Proper hydration is key to preventing heat-related illnesses. For bariatric patients, this can prove especially difficult. Many gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients have difficulty consuming the 64 ounces of fluid that is recommended ( read some of Dr. Shillingford’s tips for adequate hydration here).
Staying cool while outside can also help. Choosing the best time to exercise outside is also important. Morning and evening are usually cooler than the middle of the day. Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburns which can exacerbate dehydration. Wear light and loose-fitting clothes to keep cooler.
One other very important tip for preventing heatstroke is to exercise with a buddy. For people just beginning to exercise, like many weight loss surgery patients, having an exercise buddy is a good idea for several reasons. Buddies keep us accountable and help ensure we actually do exercise. When we exercise alone it’s easier to make an excuse not to exercise. They also make exercise more fun. It’s also good to have someone to help in cases of emergencies like heat-related illnesses like heatstroke, but also for injuries like turned ankles, cramps, or falls.
What to do for heatstroke?
If you or your exercise buddy may be experiencing heatstroke, seek medical attention immediately. While you are waiting for emergency medical attention, it’s a good idea to try to cool off and cool down your body temperature. Move into air conditioning, drink fluids, or cool off (wet towel, cool shower, fanning, etc). For more information, check out the CDC’s infographic on heatstroke.
Exercise is crucial for weight loss, even after weight loss surgery. Gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients should wait to start an exercise regimen until after they have received clearance from Dr. Shillingford (or their bariatric surgeon). Dr. Shillingford, MD, PA is a board-certified surgeon specializing in advanced laparoscopic and robotic surgery in addition to bariatric surgery. His gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band surgery patients receive follow up care in his Boca Raton office, which is conveniently located for many patients from nearby Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Coral Springs, and even Orlando. For more information on bariatric surgery and if it’s right for you, please call his office at (561) 483-8840.