As our excitement about the approaching summer season increases, so does our exposure to the beautiful outdoor sunny weather. With this season comes incredibly hot days. As the temperature rises, so must our awareness of heat-related illnesses. Whether working or playing outside for any significant time period, a person can experience any one of the following heat-related injuries:
Heat Cramps – muscle cramps that result due to overheating and significant loss of fluids and electrolytes. Symptoms include heavy sweating, muscle cramps (generally in the legs and abdomen).
Heat Exhaustion – similar to heat cramps with increasing severity of dehydration, often due to strenuous physical activity in a high temperature setting. In addition to a progression of the symptoms seen with heat cramps, heat exhaustion may include symptoms such as a headache, nausea, vomiting, and a weak rapid pulse.
Heat Stroke – results from the progression of extensive exposure to high temperatures and high humidity. It is the most severe heat injury, is considered a medical emergency and can lead to brain damage or death if not treated promptly. Signs and symptoms include a body temperature of 104 degrees or greater, dizziness & possible fainting, nausea and vomiting, little to no sweating, fast heartbeat, red hot skin, rapid shallow breathing, confusion, and seizures.
Treatment of Heat Cramps & Heat Exhaustion:
- Get to a cool place and relax.
- Cool the person off with a cold shower or bath.
- Drink plenty of fluids (water, Gatorade, or other nonalcoholic and non-caffeinated beverage).
- Get the person to the doctor as soon as possible if there is no improvement in symptoms.
Treatment of Heat Stroke:
This is a medical emergency!!! Anyone experiencing symptoms of a heat stroke should be taken for immediate medical attention. Getting the body temperature down quickly is the key to a better outcome. DO NOT attempt to treat heat stroke at home. CALL 911.
You can prevent these heat-related injuries by avoiding spending too much time outside in high temperature weather. And if you have to be outside, remain well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, even massaging the body with water and cool damp towels.
Enjoy the upcoming summer season. Prepare properly for the hot weather. BE SMART and HAVE FUN IN THE SUN!