Heat illnesses are very common, especially during the hot summer months. It is important to be aware and knowledgeable when it comes to these illnesses, especially if you have young children.
Heat exhaustion happens when your body gets too hot. If you don’t treat heat exhaustion, it can lead to heatstroke. This occurs when your internal temperature reaches at least 104°F. Heatstroke is much more serious than heat exhaustion; it can cause shock, organ failure or brain damage. And, in extreme cases, heatstroke could even kill you.
Heat-related illnesses occur when your body can’t keep itself cool. As the temperature outside rises your body produces sweat to stay cool. On hot, humid days, the increased moisture in the air slows down this process. When your body can’t cool itself, your temperature rises too high and you can become ill.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Muscle cramps
- Heavy sweating
- Pale or cold skin
- Weakness and/or confusion
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fast heartbeat
- Dark-colored urine, which indicates dehydration
In addition to these symptoms, warning signs of heatstroke also include:
- Fever of 104°F or higher
- Flushed or red skin
- Lack of sweating
- Trouble breathing
Ways to help prevent heat stroke
Babies, children and the elderly are more sensitive to heat and require extra attention. Those who are ill, obese or have heart disease are also at greater risk; as well as those who work in extreme heat.
In high temperatures, take the following precautions:
- Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.
- Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat or using an umbrella.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration and lack of salt contribute to heat-related illnesses.
- Avoid or limit drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol.
- Schedule outdoor activities for cooler times of the day. Such as before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
- Take frequent breaks to go indoors and out of the sun.
- Do not stay or leave a child in your car when it is hot outside.
Treat symptoms in the following ways:
- Get out of the heat quickly and into a cool place.
- Lie down and elevate your legs to get blood flowing to your heart.
- Take off any tight or extra clothing.
- Apply cool towels to your skin or take a cool bath.
- Drink fluids such as water or a sports drink.
- Do not drink fluids with caffeine or alcohol.
Call 911 if:
- Symptoms don’t improve or someone still has a fever of 102°F after 30 minutes of initial treatment.
- If the person goes into shock, faints, or has seizures.
- If he person is not breathing. You also should begin CPR right away.
After someone has experienced heat exhaustion or heatstroke they will be sensitive to heat. This can last for about a week. It’s important to rest and let your body recover. Talk to your health care provider for more information.