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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Just the Facts: Our doctors answer your burning questions

Posted By: Advancing Care
sobakasu / Fotolia

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How can I guard against hyperthermia?

A day or two of extreme heat and humidity is not a problem for most people, says Ivan Miller, MD, Director of the Emergency Department at Westchester Medical Center.  “However,” he says, “three or more days of persistent extreme heat and humidity increase the risk of heat-related illnesses.” During those times of high heat,  there are a number of ways to reduce risk of hyperthermia and avoid a trip to the Emergency Department. Those include keeping kids and the elderly out of hot cars (never leave young children unattended in the car during warmer months, period); drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated; limiting exposure to the heat and sun and places without proper ventilation; and wearing breathable, light-colored clothing. Always be aware that those most vulnerable to complications from high temps are the very old, who may spend too much time exposed to the heat due to slow ambulation, and the very young, whose thermo-regulatory systems are still immature.

For more about Westchester Medical Center’s emergency medicine program, go to: www.westchestermedicalcenter.com/emergencymedicine

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How can I keep my kids safe around pools?

Sure, pools are a blast. But anyone with young children knows there are serious risks involved with water play. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), drowning is the leading unintentional cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, a startling statistic that warrants serious parental caution. “Preventative measures, including the presence of a trained lifeguard along with proper supervision can drastically reduce the swimmer’s risk of drowning,” says Carey Goltzman, MD, Chief of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. The CPSC and the American Red Cross recommend parents assign one adult to supervise children swimming at gatherings, remove pool toys from the water after use so as not to entice children back into the water, lock doors that lead from the house to the pool, require weak swimmers to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest, and learn CPR and first-aid.

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I love the sun, but how do I protect my skin?

Skin cancer is “the most common cancer in the world,” says Alan Schliftman, MD, Chief of Dermatology at Westchester Medical Center. So common that one in five will develop it during their lifetime. How can you protect yourself? First, know that it’s not just burns to be wary of, but tanning, too. “Your skin tans because it’s been injured,” says Schliftman. “In response, it darkens itself to try to prevent further damage.” So use sunscreen, beginning with a morning application while your skin is cool, followed by reapplications every two hours. During midday when the sun’s rays are strongest, avoid the sun entirely and wear hats, cover-ups and sunglasses. Finally, check your skin for signs of melanoma—it accounts for just four percent of cases but 79 percent of skin-cancer deaths. Advises Schliftman, “If a mole changes in symmetry, border, color or diameter, show it to your doctor or a dermatologist promptly.”