Health risks from heat waves - the sick have to be especially careful

Health risks from heat waves - the sick have to be especially careful

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

The continuing heat poses health risks

The second heat wave this year is already rolling over Germany. What represents the best holiday weather for some people becomes torture for others. In particular, weakened and sick people must be particularly careful in the heat, warn doctors from the emergency rooms. In older people with existing diseases such as diabetes, neurological complaints or heart diseases, the heat can quickly hit health.

"The most common illnesses that these patients additionally suffer in the course of such heat waves are severe electrolyte disturbances, acute kidney failure, stomach and intestinal infections or lung infections", warns Christoph Duesberg, head of the internal department of the emergency department of the Hannover Medical School (MHH). The emergency rooms must prepare for an increased number of people in the coming days.

Drinking enough is the be-all and end-all

The internist emphasizes that the best way to escape this fate is to drink enough. "When sweating, but also when breathing and via the kidneys and intestines, our body loses water," explains Duesberg. Where 1.5 to two liters of water are sufficient on normal days, according to the expert, it should already be at least three liters per day in the heat.

First signs of heat damage

You should listen to the warning signs that the body emits. "If you drink too little, you will get tired faster and will be less able to concentrate - dizziness, headaches, muscle cramps or even digestive problems are signs that you have drunk too little," explains the expert. Then you should also react quickly, as in the worst case otherwise cardiac arrhythmias, a circulatory collapse or a heat stroke could result.

Pay special attention to nursing patients

Older people who are dependent on care by other people are particularly hard hit. According to Duesberg, the nursing staff and relatives should make sure that the hydration is sufficient. "If a patient should only drink less for medical reasons, it is essential to clarify with the attending doctor whether this also applies to such hot days as at the moment," recommends the emergency room manager.

Four tips to get healthy through the heat

Duesberg reveals the best four tips to get through the hot period safely and healthy, so that the beautiful weather does not become a health hazard.

Do not drink drinks ice cold

Even if the temptation is great: ice-cold drinks only cool down briefly at first, then the effect is reversed. "Our body's heat regulation system is careful to keep our body constantly at 37 degrees Celsius," according to the MHH experts. When we consume ice-cold drinks, the body turns on the internal "heating" in order to quickly return to 37 degrees. After a short cooling in the mouth and throat, a real heat wave follows, which flows through the body.

Not every liquid helps

However, according to the MHH doctors, not every liquid is suitable for quenching thirst. It is better to avoid alcohol and excessive coffee consumption in the heat. Water, spritzers and fruit teas are best suited to balance the water balance. Melons are also a particularly good heat snack.

No physical exertion in the heat

You should refrain from physical exertion as much as possible during the day. Sports activities should be shifted into the early morning or late evening. This also counts for heavy physical work in the garden such as mowing the lawn.

Protect hats

If you spend a lot of time outdoors in the heat, you should wear a hat or cap if possible. This protects against direct sunlight from above. Don't forget sunscreen on uncovered parts of the body.

Hottest phase of the past 2000 years

According to a current study, we will have to get used to such heat waves. In an extensive weather analysis, researchers from the University of Bern showed that we are currently in the hottest phase of the past 2000 years. There have always been extreme weather phenomena in history, such as the “little ice age” in the years between 1300 and 1850, but here the peaks were distributed differently around the globe. For the first time, warming is taking place all over the world at the same time and the rate of warming has never been as high as it has been in recent decades. The study results were recently presented in the renowned journal “Nature”. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Neukom, Raphael / Steiger, Nathan / Gómez-Navarro, Juan José / u.a .: No evidence for globally coherent warm and cold periods over the preindustrial Common Era, Nature, 2019,
  • PAGES 2k Consortium: Consistent multidecadal variability in global temperature reconstructions and simulations over the Common Era, Nature Geoscience, 2019,
  • University of Bern: Climate has warmed faster than ever in the past 2000 years (accessed: 07/25/2019),
  • Hannover Medical School (MHH): Heat creates problems for people (accessed: 25.07.2019),

Video: Explaining the heat dome and hot-weather health risks (August 2022).