LIFE&STYLE

Summer can be vulnerable time for those with chronic conditions

By 이다영
  • Published : Jul 30, 2015 - 18:22
  • Updated : Jul 30, 2015 - 18:25
While summer offers great opportunities for outdoor activities and sports, the warm weather can be a serious health threat especially to those with chronic medical conditions.

According to Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital, the fatality rate of diabetes and heart disease patients increases when the average temperature during the summer months rises.

“The heat can be especially dangerous for those with diabetes, chronic kidney conditions and high blood pressure,” said Dr. Shin Gil-ja from the hospital. “People with such conditions should stay indoors as much as possible and try their best to avoid dehydration.”
Patients with chronic medical conditions should avoid dehydration during the summer months, doctors say. (Yonhap)

For high blood pressure patients, it is important to avoid both hot and cold showers in the summer months, as well as expose themselves to strong air conditioning when their body temperature is high. “Your blood pressure is affected by a sudden change in temperature and weather,” Shin said.

“Cold and hot showers in the summer can elevate your blood pressure, so those with high blood pressure should always use lukewarm water. They should also avoid exercising outdoors as dehydration can worsen high blood pressure.”

People with diabetes, on the other hand, should take extra care of their feet during the summer months. Diabetes can reduce the blood supply to one’s feet and this can cause a loss of feeling and pain. This means foot injuries do not heal well, and one may even not notice if his or her foot is injured.

About 15 to 20 percent of patients with diabetes worldwide end up seeking medical treatment for a foot ulcer of other type of infection. In severe cases, such foot problems may require amputation.

Although people with diabetes should always take care of their feet, the summer months can be even more dangerous as many choose not to wear socks. Dr. Shin advices all diabetes patients to wear a clean pair of socks and to always use footwear even when at a beach. “There may be unknown particles lying around that can cause harm to your foot,” she said. 

“Inspect your feet every day, look out for bruises and cuts. Apply lotion to your feet regularly—dryness can also lead to skin damage -- and make sure to trim your nails as well.”

For patients with chronic kidney diseases, it’s important to avoid consuming fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of potassium, such as bananas, tomatoes, oranges and potatoes. People with chronic kidney diseases often end up with high potassium, as their kidneys often fail to remove excess the mineral that controls nerve and muscle function.

High potassium in the blood can cause nausea, weakness, numbness and slow pulse. In severe cases, this can also cause a heart attack. 

“It’s very important for patients with chronic kidney disease to keep track of their diet,” said Dr. Kang Deok-hee. “But many forget about the foods that they should not consume during their vacation months and this can lead to dangerous consequences.

In order to prevent potassium levels from getting too high, it’s recommended to avoid foods that are high in potassium, as well as milk and milk products. Low-potassium fruits and vegetables include berries, apples, peaches, green beans and zucchini.

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)