It’s no secret that all over the country warm weather is now upon us. In some places, like here on the east coast, the weather is down right hot for this time of year. With this week’s high temps predicted to reach nearly triple digits each day, it is time to discuss heat related illnesses.
When the weather gets hot and people are outside being active and having fun, they can be effected by heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Both of these conditions occur when the body over heats. Normally, the body controls its temperature very well and, when it gets too hot, the body will produce sweat, which will evaporate off the skin and cool the body. But when the temperature gets extremely hot, the humidity is high or a person is vigorously active under the hot sun, the body loses its ability to cool itself down and heat exhaustion or heat stroke can occur.
Another major cause of heat exhaustion and heat stroke is dehydration. When a person is dehydrated, the body can not produce sweat fast enough to keep itself cool and it will over heat.
What You Need To Know About Heat Exhaustion And Heat Stroke
People that are the most susceptible to these conditions are infants, the elderly, especially those with chronic health conditions like heart and lung disease, athletes, and those that work under the hot sun for multiple hours are at time.
Some of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion:
- Muscle cramps
It is important to know that a person suffering from heat exhaustion can have skin that feels cool and wet to the touch but really they are over-heating. Their breathing will be rapid and shallow and their heart rate will be very fast. It is important to treat heat exhaustion quickly for it can rapidly develop into heat stroke, a very serious condition that requires medical attention.
To treat heat exhaustion, simply cool off the person. This can be done by getting them to drink a cool, non-alcoholic beverage, bringing them into an air conditioned place, have them take a cool shower or swim, remove heavy clothes and/or having them rest.
The symptoms should go away once the person is cooled down, but, if they last more than an hour, medical attention should be sought.
As I stated earlier, heat stroke is a serious medical condition that can lead to death if it is not treated immediately.
Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include:
- High body temperature
- Absence of sweating with hot red or flushed dry skin
- Rapid heart rate
- Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
- Strange behavior such as hallucinations, confusion, agitation, and disorientation
- Fainting, and/or unresponsiveness.
During a heat stroke, the body’s temperature can reach levels of 106 degrees and needs to be cooled down. If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 immediately and while you wait for help, cool the person down by placing them in a cool shady place, remove all heavy clothing, spray the person with a light mist of cool water, fan the person to treat and create evaporation, which will help cool the skin. If the person is unresponsive, don’t try to get them to drink since this may cause choking. If it is possible, take the person’s temperature with a thermometer and don’t stop cooling until the person reaches 101-102 degrees.
With proper treatment and returning the body temperature to a normal level, a person can survive heat exhaustion and heat stroke just fine.
Summer is fun. I want you to have a good time outside in the warm/hot weather, but just know the signs and symptoms for heat stroke and heat exhaustion and do your best to prevent them by:
- Staying hydrated and replacing electrolytes with sports drinks during times of high physical activity
- Taking breaks for re-hydration when spending long periods in the sun
- Wearing light weight, flowing clothes
- Resting when possible
Hot weather is what summer is all about, so let’s enjoy it and stay safe!