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Riding The Heatwave

August 4, 2020

Days are getting hotter and hotter and unfortunately during the summer season, persons 65 years and older comprise most emergency room visits and deaths. Look out for the following symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat strokes: confusion, headaches, trouble thinking, seeing or hearing things that are not real, trouble walking, fast breathing or fast heartbeat, skin redness and warmth, vomiting or diarrhea, and muscle cramps or weakness. Heat exhaustion and heat strokes can be prevented.

During these hot days please take breaks if you are exercising, drink plenty of fluids so you do not feel thirsty, wear loose and lightweight clothing, and avoid being in a hot car. To help cool down your body, you can spray yourself with cool water, move to the shade, sit in front of a fan, drink cold water or a sports drink, and avoid alcohol or caffeine. You also can take a cool shower or bath, go into an air-conditioned building or car, and put a cold pack or cool cloth on your neck, armpits, or groin.

If you do not have air conditioning, you can call the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) at 212-331-3126 to apply for a free air conditioner and installation. To qualify, you must have a chronic health condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, dementia, obesity, seizures, or drug misuse, or be socially isolated or with limited mobility. If necessary, ask your primary care doctor to provide you with a letter to document your chronic health condition. You can apply until August 30, 2020. In addition, call 311 or go to NYC Cooling Center website to find a cooling center in New York City during a heatwave.

Contributed by Yeriko Santillan, MD

Dr. Santillan is a third-year resident at Ryan Health | Adair from the Internal Medicine residency program at Mount Sinai Morningside-Mount Sinai West in the primary care track.