November 14, 2018

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It's Getting Hot, Too Hot!

 

Now that August is here, we are moving into the hottest time of the summer.  Recently the heat index has risen to over 108°.  With football practices starting and people enjoying other outdoor activities and vacations, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of heat related illness.  Those most at risk for heat related illnesses are children, the elderly, and people who work or exercise in hot environments.  According the American Red Cross, a heat-related illness occurs when the body is not able to regulate and control its temperature.   When air temperature rises, the body stays cool by letting heat escape through the skin and evaporates through sweat.  On hot, humid days, the evaporation of sweat is slowed by the increased moisture in the air.  When the body isn’t cooled properly, body temperature rises and you might become ill.  Heat related illness can range from mild symptoms but can progress to a life threatening condition quickly.  However, most heat related illnesses can be prevented.  Please see the chart below with common heat related illnesses and what to do if you or someone you know displays any of the symptoms.

 

Condition 1

Heat Cramps

 

Sign & Symptoms

Painful cramps, especially in the legs

Flushed, moist skin

Mild fever

 

What to do

Move to a cool place and rest

Remove excess clothing and place cool clothes on skin

Give cool sports drinks containing electrolytes such as Gatorade® or Rally®

Slowly stretch cramped muscles

 

Condition 2

Heat Exhaustion

 

Sign & Symptoms

Muscle cramps

Heavy sweating

Pale, moist skin

Fever

Nausea

Vomiting

Anxiety

Headache

Fatigue

Weakness

Fainting spells

 

What to do

Move to a cool place and rest

Remove excess clothing and fan skin

Give cool sports drinks containing electrolytes such as Gatorade® or Rally®

If no improvement after rest or unable to take fluids, patient should be taken to a hospital for evaluation

 

Condition 3

Heat Stroke

 

Sign & Symptoms

Warm, dry skin

High fever, usually over 104

Rapid heart rate

Rapid, shallow breathing

Loss of appetite

Nausea

Vomiting

Fatigue, lethargy

Confusion

Agitation

Prolonged fainting spells

Seizures, coma

 

What to do

Heat stroke is an EMERGENCY SITUATION**

Move to a cool place and rest

Call 911 

Remove excess clothing and drench skin with cool water, fan skin

Place ice bags on the armpits and groin areas

Offer cool fluids if alert and able to drink

 

It is important to avoid outdoor activity especially in the afternoon and early evening hours.  Make sure you schedule strenuous activities for the early morning or evening.   Always wear lightweight, loose fitting clothing when exercising or working outside.  Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat or using an umbrella.  Frequently apply sunscreen with SF 15 or more.  Drink plenty of water before starting an outdoor activity, and avoid caffeine (tea, coffee, soda) or alcohol.     Remember, most heat related illnesses are preventable and the key to prevention is proper hydration.

 

 

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