NIH Hot Weather Advice for Older People

NB — Alcohol and heat can kill, whether weather-related heat or from spas, hot tubs, or steam / maqaq (steambaths or saunas).

From: NIH news releases and news items On Behalf Of NIH OLIB (NIH/OD)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH NIH News National Institute on Aging (NIA)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, July 24, 2006

CONTACT: Anne Decker, 301-496-1752, nianews AT

Older people are at high risk for developing heated-related illness because the ability to respond to summer heat can become less efficient with advancing years. Fortunately, the summer can remain safe and enjoyable for everyone who uses good, sound judgment.

Heat stress, heat fatigue, heat syncope (sudden dizziness after exercising in the heat, heat cramps and heat exhaustion are all forms of “hyperthermia,” the general name given to a variety of heat-related illnesses. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, muscle spasms and fatigue after exposure to heat. If you suspect someone is suffering from a heat-related illness:

— Get the victim out of the sun and into a cool place, preferably one that is air-conditioned.

— Offer fluids but avoid alcohol and caffeine. Water, fruit and vegetable juices are best.

— Encourage the individual to shower, bathe or sponge off with cool water.

— Urge the person to lie down and rest, preferably in a cool place.

Heat stroke is especially dangerous for older people and requires emergency medical attention. A person with heat stroke has a body temperature above 104 [degrees F] and may have symptoms such as confusion, combativeness, bizarre behavior, faintness, staggering, strong rapid pulse, dry flushed skin, lack of sweating, possible delirium or coma.

The temperature does not have to hit 100 for a person to be at risk for hyperthermia. Both an individual’s general health and/or lifestyle may increase the threat of a heat-related illness. Health factors which may increase risk include:

— Age-related changes to the skin such as poor blood circulation and inefficient sweat glands.

— Heart, lung and kidney diseases, as well as any illness that causes general weakness or fever.

— High blood pressure or other conditions that require changes in diet. For example, people on salt restricted diets may increase their risk. However, salt pills should not be used without first asking a consulting doctor.

— The inability to perspire caused by medications including diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers and certain heart and blood pressure drugs.

— Taking several drugs for various conditions. It is important, however, to continue to take prescribed medication and discuss possible problems with a physician.

— Being substantially overweight or underweight.

— Drinking alcoholic beverages.

Lifestyle factors also can increase risk, including extremely hot living quarters, lack of transportation, overdressing, visiting overcrowded places and not understanding weather conditions. Older people, particularly those at special risk, should stay indoors on especially
hot and humid days, particularly when there is an air pollution alert in effect. People without fans or air conditioners should go to shopping malls, movie houses and libraries. Friends or relatives might be asked to supply transportation on particularly hot days. Many communities, area agencies, religious groups and senior citizen centers also provide such services as cooling centers.

For a free copy of the National Institute on Aging’s AgePage on hyperthermia and other important health information, please contact the NIA Information Center at 1-800-222-2225 or go to The NIA is part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health. The NIA is the lead federal agency supporting and conducting biomedical, social, and behavioral research and training related to aging and the diseases and special needs of older people.


This NIH News Release is available online at:

maqaq =
Yup’ik etymology, compiled by Oleg Mudrak

CENTRAL YUP’IK AND THE SCHOOLS, A Handbook for Teachers, 1984, Written by Steven A. Jacobson

Jim Culp videoclip of John Active’s news report


3 Responses to “NIH Hot Weather Advice for Older People”

  1. 1 vuee 2006 July 29 at 6:37 pm

    Guidebook on Excessive Heat Events

    The EPA has recently produced a document based on research conducted about excessive heat events. EPA worked with Federal, state, local, and academic partners to develop guidance to assist communities in preparing for and responding to excessive heat events. The Guidebook was developed by EPA’s Office of Atmospheric Programs (OAP) and EPA’s Aging Initiative (in the Office of Children’s Health) in collaboration with NWS, NOAA, CDC, and the Department of Homeland Security (FEMA), with input from a wide range of local officials and national experts on heat events. The guidebookcan be downloaded at:

  2. 2 Florence Slavin 2007 February 9 at 11:02 am

    My question is: Does your blood thicken in cold weather and thin in hot weather?

  3. 3 vuee 2007 February 9 at 11:56 am

    The temperature per se shouldn’t affect blood quality or quantity. I know that is an expression used when one chronically feels cold or warm.

    Body fat, body shape (morphology), and metabolic rate (with diet) are all factors involved in maintaining body temperature. Outside temperature will affect how much blood flows to the extremities (more in warmer weather to get rid of excess internal body heat. Vessels in hands and feet constrict more in colder weather to keep more warm blood around internal organs.)

    It would be interesting to find out more behind that expression. I know the old saying feed a fever, starve a cold (or vice versa) has been tested (feed both in moderation).

    Anyone know?

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