Heat-related illnesses are a very real and serious condition.
Each year, over 650 people in America will pass away from heat-related conditions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a heat-related illness “is a condition resulting from exposure to extreme heat where the body becomes unable to properly cool, resulting in a rapid rise in body temperature.”
Two common types of heat-related illness include heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Now that the summer is here, it’s vital that you pay attention to how your body is handling the heat.
Here are some signs to look out for:
–Nausea or throwing up (heat exhaustion or heat stroke)
–Headache (heat exhaustion or heat stroke)
–Dizziness (heat exhaustion or heat stroke)
–Fainting (heat exhaustion or heat stroke)
–Muscle cramping (heat exhaustion)
–Distorted thinking (heat stroke)
–Flushed skin (heat stroke)
–Body temperature over 103 degrees (heat stroke)
–Unconsciousness (heat stroke)
Here’s a helpful guide from the CDC to understand the difference in symptoms.
If you or someone near you is exhibiting signs of heat stroke, it’s important that you seek medical attention immediately.
If you believe you or someone near you is experiencing heat exhaustion, the Mayo Clinic recommends moving to a shady spot, lying down, removing heavy clothing, drinking a cool beverage, and fanning or putting cool water on the body.
To avoid developing heat-related illness in the first place, make sure to:
—Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water is key to staying safe in the heat. When you sweat, you lose liquid with important minerals. If you’re not replacing that liquid, you run the risk of dehydration which can lead to lethargy, lightheadedness, confusion, diarrhea and vomiting, and it can cause serious complications such as kidney issues, seizures, and the possibly life-threatening hypovolemic shock.
—Wear the right clothing for warm weather: Just like in the winter time, there’s appropriate clothing you should wear in the sun or humidity. Make sure to wear loose-fitting, breezy clothing that doesn’t make you sweat any more than you need to.
—Avoid the hottest time in the day if possible: The hottest time of day is typically in the late afternoon—around 3PM—as the heat as been able to build up throughout the day. Early mornings or late evenings are typically better times to be outside as the sun is not as high in the sky.
—Stay inside if you are high risk: Some people are predisposed to being affected by heat more than others. Young people and older people often have difficulty regulating body heat, and specific medications also make it difficult. Here’s a list of such medications. Also, if you have certain health conditions, such as obesity or heart or lung disease, it can increase your chances of developing a heart-related illness.
As you get ready to spend more time out in the sun, please remember these tips and stay safe.