Overheating After an SCI

Overheating After an SCI

Before my accident I knew almost nothing about spinal cord injuries. I definitely did not know that you lost the ability to sweat below your level of injury. While it’s weird at least my wife can’t complain that my feet stink. This was definitely an issue before my accident. Boots are not breathable and the funk was strong in this one.

Anhidrosis is the loss of the ability to sweat. You would think this would be a great in certain cases. That might be true until you learn what sweating accomplishes for the body. Sweating allows us to keep our bodies at a normal consistent temperature. What happens to our bodies if we can’t keep our core temperature in check? Your cells begin to cook for lack of a better explanation. That sounds pretty gross. Who wants to cause themselves internal damage from hanging out on a beautiful sunny summer day?

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of overheating? Let’s start with feeling way too hot. You can also develop weakness, headaches, upset stomach and vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, muscle cramps, and a rapid heartbeat.

Prevention

How can you avoid this from happening? You get hot exercising, being in the sun, even the clothing you wear can increase the amount of heat your body retains. There are days you can not stay in the wonderful AC and must go out into the blazing inferno of summer heat.

  1. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  2. Stay in the shade outdoors when possible. Not only is the shade usually several degrees cooler it will lower your risk of sun damage and skin cancer.
  3. Wear light thin layers of appropriate clothing in light colors to reflect the sunlight. Dark colors such as black absorb sunlight and retain more heat. This is a great color for the winter, but it’s not so great in the summer. Wear a hat to shade your face as much as possible. Carry a large umbrella to keep the direct sunlight away from you.
  4. Wear cooling packs such as a vest or a neck wrap. These things are great if the temperatures are extremely warm and you still have a need to be outdoors.  Spraying your exposed skin with cool water from a hose or spray bottle is another great temporary fix. Find more cooling products here.

Monitor your body temperature and if it goes above 102F or you feel faint it’s time to seek medical attention. If you do suffer from a case of being overheated don’t take it lightly. Heat stroke does kill people. Take precautions so that you will not end up in this situation.

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