The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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‘Dog days’ of Texas summer a major health concern

Hydration and limited exposure to heat are key to preventing heat exhaustion

It is not uncommon to see a pristine dressed student walk from the dorm in the south quad and be dripping with sweat by the time he or she arrives to the classroom.

Texas summer heat – and humidity – can be gruesome to the ill-prepared – not only for the wardrobe, but also one’s health. Texas has a reputation for those “Dog Days” of summer, and even though it’s September, temperature spikes into triple digits are not surprising.

Almost 50 percent of this year’s freshmen class is new to Texas, and they should know that there is a lot to learn about the weather. One day you may be hiding indoors due to extreme heat, and the next day you’re pulling out a sweater to keep you warm. The seasons just aren’t definitive around here.

One major concern about Texas temperatures is heat exhaustion. It can happen to anyone. According to Skinsight.com, heat exhaustion occurs when the body’s core temperature rises above a safe level. Hot temperatures or extreme exercise can induce heat exhaustion.

This is especially a concern in the humid heat of Dallas, where saturated air reduces the amount of sweat that evaporates and cools the skin. Basically, this means that the body’s natural cooling system is not as effective as it could be.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, symptoms may include: weakness, headache, dizziness, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea and vomiting, worried feeling, fast heartbeat and dehydration.

The human body is two-thirds water when fully hydrated. But in the extreme heat, the body can sweat 10-12 ounces an hour. The body’s water composition decreases from about 66 percent to 50 percent, preventing the body to cool itself normally, according to Medline Plus.

The AAFP also recommends people who exercise or spend a lot of time outdoors to drink plenty of fluids – especially water – and avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can worsen heat exhaustion.

Medline Plus warns that dehydration can happen just as easily at slightly cooler temperatures, when lower heat is misleading and the body continues to sweat. The medical advice site also advises individuals to begin hydrating in the morning and continuing throughout the day. According to the site, a good goal to aim for is 64 ounces of water consumed throughout the day to maintain a high level of hydration.

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