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Keeping safe and well in the hot weather

Keep cool and look out for others during this week’s spell of hot weather.

This advice comes from local health care professionals as The Met Office has issued a Level 2 heatwave alert - indicating the likelihood of some very high temperatures, especially on Thursday and Friday and possibly continuing into Sunday.

While the hot weather will be welcomed by many, some people will find that the temperatures make them feel uncomfortable or affect their health. Older people, people in poor health and the very young are particularly at risk and may find it harder to adapt to the conditions, so look out for friends and family who may be at risk and think what you can do to help

Dr Christopher Browning, a GP in Long Melford and chairman of NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Dehydration in older people can cause dizziness and light headedness and is a major cause of falls. Older people often experience a reduced sensation of thirst, meaning they don’t realise they need a drink. 

“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."

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket and chairman of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "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 and avoid too much exertion.

“Babies less than six months old 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 15 to your baby’s skin.
“Sunscreen is important for adults too, but it’s important not to rely on sunscreen alone. Wear clothes that will offer sun protection, such as a hat that protects the face, neck and ears, and a long-sleeved top. Good quality sunglasses are also important to protect the eyes.

“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.”
 
Dr Nimalan de Silva, a GP at Mill Road Surgery in Colchester and co-opted member of NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “People can also help themselves - if you suffer from asthma or hay fever stay aware of the pollen count so you’re prepared and you have the right medication, ask your pharmacist about medicine cabinet essentials you should keep at home and stay ‘sun safe’ by using sunscreen with an SPF 15+. Sunburn is painful and could increase your risk of skin cancer.”
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