Heatwave can cause breathing difficulties

July 20, 2011 at 7:47 PM

MELROSE PARK, Ill., July 20 (UPI) -- Heatwaves kill more Americans -- mostly elderly -- than any other natural disaster but high heat can affect anyone's health, a Chicago-area doctor says.

Dr. Joseph Leija, an allergist with the Gottlieb Allergy Count at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System, in Melrose Park, Ill., warns that those who are older or have chronic conditions, and those with sensitive respiratory systems, can experience breathing difficulties in high heat and humidity.

"Hot air heavy with moisture is difficult to breathe and causes added stress on already-compromised health," Leija says in a statement. "Stay in the air conditioning and talk to your physician or your allergist about adjusting your medication to accommodate the extreme heat."

Leija reports that during times of high temperatures, the body normally perspires to self-regulate or cool off.

"When it is hot and very humid, perspiration doesn't air dry, and a cooling effect is not obtained," Leija says. "Take cool showers or baths and keep skin clean, cool and dry with a dusting of cornstarch or baking soda. wear loose cotton clothing that allows air to circulate."

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