Recognizing the signs of heat-related illnesses

Mass Appeal

(Mass Appeal) – We love a warm summer day, but you do need to stay safe in the heat. If your body gets too hot, it can cause heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Here to share some warning signs and prevention tips is Physician’s Assistant Louise Cardellina from American Family Care.

With the high heat and humidity common here in the summer comes the risk of several heat-related illnesses, the most serious of which is heatstroke. It’s important to know the signs of heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as these conditions can accelerate quickly and result in permanent damage or even death.

Those most at risk include children, the elderly, and people who take medications that increase their sensitivity to heat; however, anyone can be affected under the right conditions.
Prevention: If out in the heat, take frequent breaks in the shade or cooler locations, stay hydrated, and limit time in the sun.

Heat exhaustion:
Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache and dizziness, fainting, cold and clammy skin, nausea, or a fast, weak pulse.
If you experience any of these signs, move to a cool place, loosen your clothing and sip cool water. If possible, take a cool bath or shower or use cold, wet cloths to help cool down.
If symptoms worsen, last longer than an hour, or include vomiting, seek medical help. Heat exhaustion can quickly progress to heat stroke, which can cause permanent damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles, or even death.

Heatstroke is characterized by a high body temperature over 103º F, skin that is hot and flushed, a throbbing headache, dizziness, confusion, loss of consciousness, nausea and vomiting, a racing pulse, and rapid breathing. Some people also experience seizures, slurred speech, delirium, and agitation.
If someone experiences these symptoms, call 911 immediately and move them to a cooler place. If you can, try to lower their body temperature with cold, wet towels or a cool bath or shower.
Heatstroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate care to prevent lasting damage or death. The outcome worsens the longer treatment is delayed, so it’s important to act quickly.

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