Stay Safe When the Heat is On
Monday, June 18, 2012 • 1:04pm
Summer’s carefree lifestyle can still present some health concerns.
Heat-related illnesses are a growing concern, with more than 60,000 cases a year in the U.S. When external and internal conditions affect the body’s ability to dispel heat, heat illness can occur. Anyone can develop a heat-related illness. However, those facing the highest risk include adults age 65 and older, kids age 4 and younger, overweight individuals, and people who have chronic health problems.
The most effective way for the body to dispel heat is through the evaporation of sweat. But when humidity is high, sweat evaporation is affected. So, during the dog days of summer, hydration is key.
If you’re exercising, it can be a challenge to stay hydrated. Adults should drink 8 to 10 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise, and children should drink 6 to 8 ounces of fluid. Don’t forget to drink before and after your workout, too.
Know the Signs
It’s important to recognize the symptoms of heat illness, which can include:
- Pain/cramps in the legs or abdomen
- Profuse sweating
- Pale, moist skin
If you’re experiencing symptoms, find a cool place and sit quietly. Drink clear juice, a sports beverage, or 500 milli-liters of water mixed with a teaspoon of salt. Apply some cool, wet washcloths to your skin or take a cool shower.
Symptoms can grow worse the longer you stay in the heat. Heat illness can progress to heatstroke, which has symptoms including very high body temperature; hot, dry skin; lack of sweating; fast pulse; confusion; and, in some cases, loss of consciousness.
When It’s Too Hot to Handle
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you should seek medical care. Many heat-related conditions can be treated at the Urgent Care Center at Summit Medical Group, including heat edema, heat syncope (fainting), heat cramps, and heat exhaustion. If you’re having severe symptoms such as those associated with heatstroke, call 911.
When you arrive at the Urgent Care Center, you’ll be triaged by an ACLS-certified registered nurse and evaluated by a board certified emergency medicine physician. You can rest assured that when leaving the Urgent Care Center, your care will be continued with the right specialists or the Emergency Department.
Click the link below to listen to David Schreck, MD, Chairman and Medical Director of the Summit Medical Group Department of Emergency and Hospital Medicine discuss summer heat and dehydration. Once you click the link, some browsers will require that you click the term Open to hear the audio file.
For more information, visit www.summitmedicalgroup.com.
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