HEALTH MAT­TERS

Macclesfield Express - - MACCLESFIELD PEOPLE -

●● WITH Dr Paul Bowen, a GP with McIlvride Med­i­cal Prac­tice, Poyn­ton, and ex­ec­u­tive chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clin­i­cal Com­mis­sion­ing Group (CCG). MANY of us have been en­joy­ing the hot weather, although it would have been nice to have air con­di­tion­ing in our surgery!

Sun­light con­verts Vi­ta­min D from our diet into its ac­tive form, makes many of us more ac­tive, and is a nat­u­ral an­tide­pres­sant.

How­ever, it also has its risks and, with­out want­ing to be a killjoy, it seems timely to re­mind ev­ery­one about the risks of ex­ces­sive sun ex­po­sure and heat.

Lo­cal A&E de­part­ments and GP surg­eries still see far too much sun burn and heat­stroke, which can some­times be fa­tal.

Dur­ing Au­gust 2003, when there was a Euro­pean heat­wave, deaths in those aged over 75 rose by six per cent – with ap­prox­i­mately 2,000 ex­tra deaths in Eng­land than would nor­mally be ex­pected.

I, like many GP col­leagues lo­cally, am amazed when I visit peo­ple in their homes on hot sunny days and find peo­ple in­side, dressed in lay­ers of cloth­ing with no win­dows open, of­ten drink­ing cof­fee.

I’ve per­son­ally even turned off peo­ple’s gas fires dur­ing a heat wave.

Take a few mo­ments to read my top tips for keep­ing safe in the sun: ●● Keep your­self hy­drated by drink­ing plenty of flu­ids and avoid­ing ex­cess al­co­hol, caf­feine and hot drinks. ●● Ap­ply sun­screen with a fac­tor of at least 15 and prefer­ably higher. ●● En­sure that ba­bies, chil­dren, older peo­ple or pets are not left alone in sta­tion­ary cars. ●● Avoid sun­bathing be­tween 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strong­est. ●● If trav­el­ling by car, take drink­ing wa­ter for the jour­ney and en­sure you and your pas­sen­gers do not be­come over­heated. ●● Wear a hat and light, loose-fit­ting clothes, prefer­ably cot­ton. ●● Use sun glasses that of­fer your eyes 100 UV pro­tec­tion. ●● Keep your en­vi­ron­ment cool by clos­ing cur­tains and blinds dur­ing the day and turn­ing off non-es­sen­tial elec­tri­cal equip­ment and lights, as they gen­er­ate heat. ●● Call NHS 111 if you feel dizzy, weak, anx­ious or have in­tense thirst and headache, move to a cool place as soon as pos­si­ble and hy­drate with flu­ids such as energy drinks. ●● As I men­tioned in last week’s col­umn, skin can­cer preva­lence has more than dou­bled in Eastern Cheshire dur­ing the past five years, so cover up vul­ner­a­ble skin in the sun.

For more in­for­ma­tion on sun safety, visit gov. uk/gov­ern­ment/ publi­ca­tions/heat­wave­plan-for-eng­land.

●● Dr Paul Bowen

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