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No sweat! Why people over 65 have a hard time in the heat

Our sweat glands shrink as we age, making it difficult to cool our bodies.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — We are roaring into summer with hot temperatures and some of those who suffer the most from the heat are our senior family members and neighbors. That's one of the reasons why you should check on them during hot weather.

So, why can't they handle the heat?

Dr. Afriyie Gray, a Geriatrician with Trinity Health Medical Group says one of the reasons is because there is a physical change that happens to our bodies after the age of 65 that makes it harder to cool down your body.

Your sweat glands shrink! 

"Our sweat glands are there so that we can let off heat or our bodies can easily adapt to that heat. And when we have shrinkage of sweat glands or not as many sweat glands available, our body is not able to regulate itself," Dr. Gray said.

That's one of the reasons why the heat is so dangerous to those over 65 because they can't sweat like younger people do to cool themselves off. 

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Heat stroke symptoms and prevention infographic. Risk of dehydration from the hot summer sun. Idea of health and body care. Isolated vector illustration in cartoon style

But there's also another concern. 

Dr. Gray says after the age of 65 our bodies also have a hard time staying hydrated.

 "Their ability to retain their water and stay hydrated goes down so it's often easy for them to become dehydrated just because of the natural physiological aging process," Dr. Gray said and adds that people over 65 also lose the ability to feel thirsty which adds to the dehydration concerns.

So during this heat wave check on your older neighbors and family members! It just might save their life.


13 On Your Side Health Reporter Valerie Lego 

Val has been reporting on health and medical stories in West Michigan for 16 years. She is an 18-time Emmy Award Winner. Her health reporting credentials include fellowships from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Association of Health Care Journalists

Contact me: vallego@13OnYourSide.com

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