Wed, Aug 23, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Stay cool the traditional way and avoid illnesses

HOW TO BEAT THE HEAT Drinking large amounts of cold water, freezing showers and airconditioning are out and quaffing lightly salted water or sports drinks are in

By Lin Hsiang-mei  /  STAFF REPORTER

As the searing summer heat continues, many people are feeling drowsy or lethargic and tending to sleep longer.

Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine say that this could be a sign of heatstroke, or that it indicates heat is being countered inappropriately, for example by drinking cold water, taking cold showers or cranking up the air conditioning when one is already sweating.

According to Chinese medicine, these measures can lead to heat being pent up inside the body instead of being properly dispelled, and can also lead to summer colds.

Yen Chih-cheng (顏志誠), a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine at Taipei City Hospital, said that with temperatures in Taiwan often reaching 35oC in the summer, which is close to the temperature of the human body, it is not good to dispel heat by these means as they can lead to heatstroke.

Yen went on to say that heat stroke is the result of an imbalance between body temperature and consumption of liquids, which leads to lower energy levels and a lack of sufficient fluids in the body.

Yen added that while the body normally gets rid of excess heat by sweating, warding off the heat the wrong way can trigger other problems -- drinking too much cold water, for example, can lead to diarrhea.

Chuang Mei-hsing (莊美幸) of the Department of Family Medicine at Taipei City Hospital said that although hot conditions mean that the body's temperature cannot be easily adjusted, hospital emergency rooms see few patients suffering from heatstroke. However, he said that being exposed to too much heat can result in feeling fatigued.

Chuang advises people to drink more water and avoid lingering for too long in badly ventilated places during extreme heat. Yen said that it is advisable to drink lightly salted water or sports drinks to maintain the balance of electrolytes in the body, adding that drinking too much cold water can lead to stomach upsets.

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