Zosimo T. Literatus, R.M.T.

Breakthroughs

BRITISH poet and humorist Thomas Hood wrote in his poem No!: “No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees/No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds—November!”

In the Northern Hemisphere (upper-half of the globe), November is the last month of autumn, when all those flowers, fruits and leaves have died as the chill of December’s winter softly grows.

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Our November also ends the rainy season each year, and welcomes the cold season of December. But, if the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (Pagasa) is correct, this year’s summer has made an earlier start in mid-February instead of March. The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Nathaniel Cruz of Pagasa in January that temperatures can peak at 38 degrees Celsius, which may lead to heat stroke and heat stress.

Heat stroke occurs when body temperature (BT) rises beyond 40 degrees Celsius. It can lead to stroke if hydration is inadequate. An environment that is not only hot but also humid reduces the ability of the body to lose heat by evaporation.

If your body heats up and cannot cool down, BT can reach dangerous levels.

Unlike what we most believe, thirst is not a reliable sign of dehydration; the color of urine is. A dark yellow color may indicate dehydration. And drinking water lacking rehydrating salts can lead to a drop in body sodium and to sudden death from heart attack. That explains why, in hot and humid weather, demineralized water may not help.

British researcher Ken Parsons reports the Shafts method in improving heat tolerance during excessively hot and humid climate. Parsons is professor of human sciences at Loughborough University in UK. He wrote in Global Health Action (July 2009) that “sensible, hydrated, acclimatized, fit, thin, and sober” are keys to this approach.

Sensible behavior means reducing heat-generating activities (e.g. exercise regimen) as well as heat retention (e.g. light clothing). Getting hydrated means drinking water and taking hydrative salts (e.g. sodium, potassium).

Acclimatization, he wrote, is most effective when adaptation is gradual; not pushing our body beyond what it can take.

Physical fitness allows the body to easily adapt to changing temp (sweating profusely when BT gets so high). Less fit individuals have problems sweating. Meanwhile, thin body makes heat release easier. Obese people generate more heat and got problem releasing it. Sobriety includes avoiding alcohol and other drugs, which inhibits cooling off.

A quick way to cool down is to plunge your hands and feet in cool water or spray water on your face or exposed skin. Abrupt cooling causes thermal shock, which can raise your blood pressure.

Samuel Butler sees better in fallen flowers: “What we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.”

(E-mail: zim_breakthroughs@yahoo.com; blog: http://breakthroughs.today.blogspot.com)