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Practical tips to keep cool when the summer heat starts making you sick

MANILA, Philippines — Summer in the Philippines can be quite hot and humid. This year is going to be particularly hot and cruel, with El Niño spiking up the temperature and making it unbearably hot. “Doubly hot” is still an understatement.

As the numbers on our thermometer climb, so does the threat of heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps or heat exhaustion, as well as the risk of succumbing to them. Children, the elderly and persons with chronic conditions are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses, with the red flag coming in the form of mild symptoms like red and itchy skin (heat rash) to more serious manifestations such as nausea, fainting and muscle pains (heat stroke).

Before anything like these happen, Amado A. Flores III, MD, of Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed), recommends brushing up on what to do when intense heat starts to make you physically ill and taking serious steps to beat them.

Heare are Dr. Flores’ suggestions:

The most important thing to do is seek refuge in a cooler environment.

“It’s ideal for you to stay somewhere with air conditioning when you start feeling unwell,” said Dr. Flores. “When that’s not an option, even somewhere with shade is much better than standing under the sun. The goal here is to help your body cool down and lower its temperature.”

Hydrating is also key to bringing your body temperature down so go for a cool beverage like water or even a sports drink with electrolytes.

“Electrolytes, such as potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and chloride, help us maintain our fluid balance, facilitate nerve function, regulate muscle contractions and support numerous biochemical reactions within our bodies. Replenishing electrolytes during a heat wave is important because we lose them when we sweat,” explained Dr. Flores.

It’s also important to cool the largest organ of your body where heat escapes through — the skin.

Soak a towel (or napkins or even a t-shirt) and dampen the neck, back, chest and shoulders. According to Dr. Flores, the science behind this is that the wet towel will pull heat away from your body, cooling your skin and aiding temperature regulation.

“If possible, you can also try submerging your