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The top heat-related illnesses: What you need to know if this happens to you

It’s that time of year again, the heat and humidity are rising and the need to do outdoor gardening or whatever needs to be done outside is in fruition. The most important thing that you can do for yourself is to stay hydrated and take frequent breaks from the warm summer sun. There are a number of heat-related illnesses that could occur and consist of heatstroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Those who are at risk include: infants and young children, elderly people, pets, those with heat or circulatory problems, people who work outdoors, athletes and people who like to exercise, individuals taking medication that alter sweat production and alcoholics and drug abusers. So, what steps do you take if you or someone else has a heat-related illness?

The first heat-related illness that we will talk about is heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when the ability to sweat fails and the body temperature rises rapidly. As the body temperature raises to a dangerous level in minutes the brain and vital organs are damaged and this could become permanent. If someone is experiencing heatstroke they will have hot skin, as well as an altered mental state that can range from confusion to a coma. Call 911 and also perform these crucial steps for survival:

~ Move the person into a half-sitting position in the shade

~ If humidity is below 75%, spray the victim with water and fan them vigorously

~ If humidity is above 75%, apply ice to neck, armpits or groin

~ Do not give aspirin or acetaminophen

~ Do not give the victim anything to drink

The next heat-related illness that we will talk about is heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is when the body loses an excessive amount of salt and water, those who work outdoors and athletes are susceptible to this. Symptoms that can occur include: severe thirst, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms include profuse sweating, clammy or pale skin, dizziness, rapid pulse and normal or slightly elevated body temperature. Make sure to treat the victim quickly and perform these steps:

~ Move the person to a shaded or air-conditioned area

~ Give the person water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages

~ Apply wet towels or have the person take a cool shower

The last heat-related illness that we will talk about is heat cramps. Heat cramps are muscle cramps that usually occur in the legs or the abdominal muscles. Excessive sweating reduces salt levels in the body that can result in heat cramps. Those with pain or spasms in the abdomen should:

~ Sit or lie down in the shade

~ Drink cool water or a sports drink

~ Stretch affected muscles

~ Seek medical attention if you have heart problems or if the cramps don’t get better in an hour

If you would like more information regarding heat-related illness please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most frequently asked questions.

Category: Health Care