●● 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