Hot enough for ya?

I know, I know-if you hear that one more time…  Many folks are reveling in the heat and sunshine but I can assure you I am not one of them. For about 40% of people with Systemic Lupus (lucky me), the sun’s rays are extremely harmful and can even be deadly. The UVA and UVB rays are absorbed into the body and exacerbate lupus by triggering the autoimmune response. What does all that mean? 

Under normal circumstances, when your body is invaded by bacteria or viral germs, you get an infection or illness. To fight the invaders, your immune system starts bombarding the intruders and you’ll see inflammation redness, fever, fatigue, etc. until the attacker is conquered. With lupus, the body wages war when there is no invader, or fails to turn off after battling a minor one. It keeps attacking when the only thing to attack is healthy cells. UV rays signal a war cry and everything goes haywire. Body temperature soars and whatever the attackers are focusing on gets inflamed. It could be joints, lungs, airway…any organ or system in the body. It takes anti-imflamatories, steroids  and rest to try to turn it off..not always successfully. Like a wildfire that can suddenly overwhelm a forest, sometimes it gets beyond control and nothing can stop it. Frankly, it’s a pain. I joke about going into “bat mode” (in the cave, in the dark) when the spring and summer bring more powerful, more direct UV rays but it’s really not a joke. I have a healthy and serious respect for the power of those sun rays (and the UV from rows of untraviolet lighbulbs in every major store, etc.). I wish everyone did!

I shake my head over tan lovers who pay money to climb into a bed under UV lights for the sake of beauty. The incidence of skin cancer is on the rise, and striking at earlier ages than ever before. It isn’t as if the sun-worshippers haven’t been warned. They’re adults and get to make their own decisions. What angers me is the way adults ignore the effects of sun on children. I see more and more young mothers wheeling babies in strollers with no sun protection. The poor tykes are sweaty, red and exhausted by the sun. UV Rays penetrate even on a cloudy day. Kids are playing outside without shirts or hats, as kids do, but they should have a healthy covering of sun-block! Every blistering sunburn a child gets increases their chance of skin cancer later. If you, as an adult, choose to bask in the rays and say to hell with cancer and wrinkled-prune skin, that’s your choice. The children, however, need you to be a lot smarter where they are concerned. It’s your responsibility!

Kids and pets are dependent on us to prtoect them. Hot, sunny days may seem wonderful after a long winter but you need to use common sense. Stay covered in loose clothing…and a hat and sunglasses. Use plain, generic sunblock-early and often. Perfumes and brand names don’t matter as much as the  SPF (sun protection factor). Drink, drink, drink. I’m a caffeine junkie and choose Diet coke or coffee as beverages of choice, but even I know that caffeine acts like a diuretic, sapping fluids when you need to stay hydrated, so a switch to plain old water is called for. That cold brewski may seem refreshing to some, but it doesn’t help your body balance critical fluid and electrolyte levels. Be smart. Be safe.

The sun is pretty powerful. Don’t let those life-giving rays also bring you ill health! Slip, Slap, Slop! Slip into loose clothing that covers, slap a hat on your head, and slop on that sunscreen (sunblock for kids) and have a healthy summer…er, spring… or wherever we are now!

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