An important message from our Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service.
While getting active at the beach, rainforest or in the bush are great ways to enjoy the great outdoors this summer, Queenslanders must remember the importance of proper hydration and sun safety as hot weather hits.
Dr Dan Bitmead, Nambour General Hospital emergency department director said under the hot Queensland sun, it’s very easy to become dehydrated, especially when physically active, and it’s important to be prepared and always bring water.
“Dehydration is the result of your body losing too much water and not being replaced quickly enough. Your body can lose water very quickly in hot weather by sweating, and you also lose water simply by exhaling,” Dr Bitmead said.
“Remember it’s not just the elderly or children that can be affected by dehydration, it can affect any Queenslander, even if you’re fit and healthy.
“Dehydration can have serious consequences such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, and you can suffer serious illness.
“Even if you’re heading out on a short walk, run, cycle or paddle, you should always be carrying water during the warmer months—at least 1-2 litres per person.
“If you’re heading out for a half or full day on the water or in the bush, it’s recommended to carry at least 3-4 litres of water.
“You should be drinking water regularly throughout the day—don’t wait until you’re thirsty.”
“It’s also a good idea to head out early to avoid the warmest parts of the day and even think about choosing locations offering some shade as much as possible,” Dr Bitmead said.
Symptoms of dehydration include thirstiness, a dry mouth, headache or light headedness or dizziness.
The best thing to do to avoid and treat dehydration is to drink water, and you can also use oral rehydration solutions to replace electrolytes. Avoid alcoholic, caffeinated or sugary drinks. Dr Bitmead also encouraged people to protect themselves from harmful UV rays in multiple ways every time they are outdoors as the weather heats up.
“A hat, sunscreen and sunglasses are a good idea, and where possible, a long-sleeved shirt and pants is also smart. This not only helps to protect you against the sun, but also insects such as ticks and mosquitoes,” he said.
This year through to the end of October, there have been 635 emergency department presentations for heat related illness, with the most presentations in the Cairns and Hinterland, Central Queensland and Metro North Hospital and Health Service regions.
In October 2020, there were 77 heat related emergency department presentations to Queensland hospitals—a 37% increase from the previous month.
In 2019, there were 1,161 emergency department presentations across the state for heat related illness such as heatstroke or sunstroke.
Emergency department presentations for heat related illness start to increase during the spring months and typically continue to rise throughout summer.
In September 2019, there were 40 heat related emergency department presentations to Queensland hospitals. This rose to 84 presentations in October 2019 and spiked to 157 presentations in November 2019 and 220 presentations in December 2019.
In January 2020, presentations remained high with 194 presentations, decreasing to 163 in February 2020 and 64 in March 2020.
For more information on dehydration and how to avoid it, visit the Healthier.Happier website -> https://www.healthier.qld.gov.au/guide/everything-you-need-to-know-about-dehydration-and-how-to-avoid-it/