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Sun Overdose - Are You Getting Too Much Sun?

This article was written as a response to the question: How do i know if I'm getting to much sun?
When most people ask the question "How do I know if I'm getting too much sun?", are either concerned about Vitamin D toxicity or Sun Stroke - both which are good things to be concerned about. Though there are several easy ways to relieve your concerns and make sure you're never at risk for either of those conditions.

When most people ask the question "How do I know if I'm getting too much sun?", are either concerned about Vitamin D toxicity or Sun Stroke - both which are good things to be concerned about. Though there are several easy ways to relieve your concerns and make sure you're never at risk for either of those conditions.

About Vitamin D Exposure 

Now, if you've done your homework - you'll know that one of the best gifts we receive from that great big ball of yellow fire in the sky - and that is VITAMIN D. It's a specific little vitamin that our skin cells produce when they are exposed to the rays of light that come down from the sun. Once receiving that dose of Vit D, we also then begin to produce feel good chemicals such as melatonin - which aide in digestion, fatigue and healthy sleep. Vitamin D itself is a major immune system booster, as well as a good aide for bone, muscle and live tissues.

And the reality is that MOST of our worldy population does NOT get enough Vitamin D or sun exposure. In fact, there are many children and adults who live in impoverished lands, who get lots of sun yet STILL get sick or die of diseases that could have been prevented, had they not had a Vitamin D Deficiency. It's a vital part of our health, and not something you want to miss out on. Now, for those of you asking the question - "Can a person have too much Vitamin D?" the answer is YES. You can. Though it would take a lot of over the counter Vitamin D supplements to actually overdose on Vit D, and it would take a person who is really determined to use that as a method of leaving this world, because even just a little too much vitamin D can make you pretty nauseas.

Can I Get Too Much Vitamin D From Sun Exposure?

Why yes! You can do that too!

Though the interesting thing about our skin is that it comes built in with these nice little skin pigments that soak up the sun rays (to produce vitamin D) and those little pigments have their own little sensors which tell them to stop soaking up the sun when they are full of all the UVB they can take. It's really easy to tell when you're reach the "Full" side of your sun tank, as your skin will first get darker, then start to turn red. If you keep going and ignore this signal from your body, you know what happens next? That's right! You get BURNED.

Sun Burns are a result of taking in too many sun rays, and the bodies way of signalling the conscious operator of the body to find some shade and cool down. If that body-driver doesn't stop and take care of their skin, they'll then find themselves full of "sun sickness" which can include blisters, peeling skin, angry boils, itchy skin, nausea, chills and fever.

Over time, even just letting your skin get too red from sun exposure can lead to a great risk for skin cancer, as your hard working little skin pigments can only take so much over a lifetime. Like all other parts of your body, if you don't take care of your skin, it will give out sooner then you're ready for. 

What About Sun Stroke?

Sun Stroke is essentially the same thing as Heat Stroke, which happens when the body reaches it's absolute limit to heat and starts to react adversely. Now, the only true difference between Sun Stroke and Heat Stroke, is that Heat Stroke can happen in any situation where you're body gets too hot, and does not require sun to effect you. Sun Stroke on the other hand, requires the sun, though it doesn't necessarily require an abundant amount of heat from the weather.

Either way, both Sun Stroke and Heat Stroke occur when you're body has been allowed to maintain a heat more than 4 degrees above it's natural balance (98.7* F). When this happens, our bodies start to do all sorts of crazy things. The blood circulating through our system starts to heat up rapidly, we start to loose all of our hydration to sweating and sun heat sickness sets in.

Once all those actions have catalyzed expected reactions, the brain starts to freak out for fear of being boiled by it's own life source, and that's when the symptoms of a Stroke can start to appear. Partial or full physical paralysis, slurred speech and/or the loss of basic sensory and motor abilities start to break down. The left hemisphere of your brain will start demanding you do something to get help, while at the same time loosing more and more of it's ability to communicate with the larger controller of your body - your right hemisphere, which will start to produce a dilerium in the consciousness of the person, making it difficult to be able to respond to the the left hemisphere which is saying, "Get out of the sun and get help you fool! You're gonna die!".

If exposure continues on from there, permanent brain damage and a high probability of death start becoming the greater challenge in the situation.

Now, what you have to keep in mind about Sun Stroke, is that "most" people can tell when they're getting too hot, and they end up cooling down or getting help well before the time when Sun Stroke ends up being a real danger. More often then not, the risk of Sun Stroke goes to the person that ends up lost in a desert or whom is employed to work a job that requires a lot of time in the sun or someone who is taking certain medications that cause a higher sensitivity to sun exposure. Though from time to time you'll see a person get pretty darn close to their bodies limit of heat through using recreational drugs like ecstacy, falling asleep on the beach or going to festivals on hot days with minimal shady areas.

Symptoms of Sun Overdose

For those of you whom want to make sure you have a "checklist of symptoms" to keep an eye out for, so that you know when you're getting too much sun - here is a small list of signs that you should take as signals that it's time to cool off and get out of the sun for a while.

Basic Signs & Symptoms of Sun Overdose

  • Hot Skin
  • Red Skin
  • Dry Skin
  • Skin Getting Darker
  • Skin starts to Peel
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Nausea
  • Sun Burn

Riskier Signs & Symptoms

  • Vomiting
  • Hyperthermia
  • Blisters & Boils
  • Swollen Lips
  • Headaches
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy

Signs & Symptoms of Sun Stroke

  • Dilerium & Mental Confusion
  • Euphoria
  • Inability to Concentrate
  • Bluish Skin Color
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Paranoia
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures

Elements That Don't Help

Yes, there are things can that can heighten your risk for Sun Overdose, which is not as uncommon as you might think and are all things that follow along with a decent amount of good sense. So if you know you'll be in very sunny conditions, you'll want to avoid adding these elements to your daily routine:

  • Alcohol - which makes it harder for your body to protect you and signal to you that you've had too much sun and/or heat.
  • Excessive Exercise - some exercise can help you sweat more and cool the body, but too much increases your chances of Sun Stroke by 42%
  • Medications - Specifically prescriptions that are used to reduce sweating, vasodialation or heat-loss. Other medications that can cause you problems are Anticholinergics, Antihistamines, Diuretics, SSRI's, Antidepressents, Pain Killers and Neuroleptic Agents.
  • Recreational Substances - more commonly known as "street drugs", there are some specific ones you want to avoid (not just because they're horrible for you) because they increase your risk of Sun Stroke. Those substances are Amphetamines, Cocain, Meth, PCP, MDMA (original form of Ecstacy) and eBombs (new form of ecstacy).

Other Considerations

  • Being significantly over or under your bodies natural BMI can increase your risks of Sun Overdose. - Being excessively overweight is a large labor on the part of your body, and the more sun and heat you get, the larger you risk becomes. If you should get near having a Sun Stroke, you're poor heart will not be able to keep up with the load of your weight on top of the heat issues. Not to mention, body fat is an insulator, which means you'll retain the heat your body needs to get rid of. Likewise, not having enough body fat leaves your skin less protected from the effects of too much sun and can increase your risk of Sun Stroke as well. So love your curves, and keep your weight balanced to your bodies specific needs.
  • Age is very significant in the risks of sun overdose - Infants and the Elderly are much more prone to sun overdose than the rest of the population, the elderly being at larger risk for Sun Stroke and infants being more susceptible to Heat Stroke.
  • Lack of regular sun also contributes to risks of Sun Overdose - which is another common thing that many do not consider. When you spend all your time indoors and then suddenly go out for a play day in the sun, your skin is extra sensitive. So make sure you get plenty of REGULAR sun.

In Summary

Your body comes with built in mechanisms to help prevent over exposure from the sun - though those mechanisms only do so good if you are AWARE of them and actually take appropriate measures to care for you body once you notice the signs and symptoms of sun overdose.

Keep in mnd also, that Sun Overdose is easily preventable by maintaining a regular balance of hydration with clean-unfluoridated water, keeping your body in it's best physical condition and not placing yourself in situations with a lack of shade or water.

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Comments (1)

Nicely written article regarding sun exposure and vitamin D. Everyone needs to know about this.

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