It can even cause drastic symptoms like nausea, dizziness, rapid and shallow breaths, weakness, low blood pressure, and even swelling in ankles and hands.
What causes the body to feel lethargic in the heat?
This happens because the body tries to cool down by sweating and increasing blood flow to the skin.
However, if these mechanisms are not enough to lower body temperature, the body may become lethargic or fatigued, and the normal balance of electrolytes like sodium and potassium may be disturbed.
Such metabolic imbalances can have varying effects like:
How can one tackle heat-induced lethargy?
Dr Gude emphasises on the importance of hydration, and how heat waves can cause dehydration which can lead to feelings of exhaustion, fatigue, confusion, and in extreme cases even heat shock.
He says that “plain water is the best hydrating agent”
Likewise, Dr Ishrat Jahan, a dietician at Max Hospital adds, "Hydration is very important in the summer, one must consume 2.5 to 3 litres of water per day."
What food should be actively consumed in the summer?
According to Dr Jahan, fruits and vegetables with high water content should be consumed to tackle the heat and keep the body’s liquid content high. She recommends the consumption of fruits and vegetables such as:
Moreover, Dr Gude provides a list of easily digested foods that should be consumed, such as,
What should be avoided during the summer?
Dr Gude speaks about the ill effects of alcohol and smoking on the body, especially amidst the heat.
“Avoiding alcohol is very important as it is known to further dehydrate via increased urination and increased perspiration from indigenously high core body temperature. Likewise smoking also needs to be curtailed or stopped especially in heat waves.”Dr Dilip Gude, a Senior Consultant Physician at Yashoda Hospital
She adds, water is the best hydrating agent, and liquids that measure at room temperature or cooler should preferably be consumed.
Should meal timings be modified to cope with the heat?
Dr Jahan mentions how, although meal timings need not be modified, they should be consumed in small and frequent quantities. Moreover, the mineral and water content of the meals should be high.
Thus, according to both doctors, an effective way of coping with the heat is to always stay hydrated, consume a diet with high water content and antioxidant properties, and wear breathable clothing.