Heat Related Illnesses

According to Injury Facts 2017, in 2014, 244 people in the US died from exposure to excessive heat. Those numbers are not to be taken lightly as it appears that we are in for another hot summer.


For most of us, the risk of being out in the sun for too long is not a problem. However, there are some people who have to keep aware of how long they have been in the sun and make sure it isn’t for too long. People such as infants or young children, elderly, pets, people who work outdoors, athletes, people with heart or circulatory problems alcoholics and drug abusers.


After being in the sun too long, different warning signs could appear that could indicate that you need to get out of the sun. These symptoms could mean several things including Heatstroke, Heat Exhaustion, and Heat Cramps.

Below is a list of those illnesses, their warning signs and what to do if you find someone with the conditions.

Heatstroke

Symptoms:

  • High body temperature (Above 104°F (40°C))

  • Altered mental state or behavior

  • Alteration in sweating

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Flushed skin

  • Rapid breathing

  • Racing heart rate

  • Headache

Helpful Tips:

  • Move to the shade in a seated position

  • Call for emergency help

  • Humidity below 75% - spray with water

  • Humidity over 75% - apply ice to neck, armpit and groin

  • Do not give aspirin

  • Do not give them anything to drink

Heat Exhaustion

Symptoms:

  • Faintness or dizziness

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Heavy sweating often accompanied by cold, clammy skin

  • Weak, rapid pulse

  • Pale or flushed face

  • Muscle cramps

  • Headache

  • Weakness or fatigue

Helpful Tips:

  • Move to a shaded or air conditioned area

  • Give them water

  • Apply wet towels or have them take a cool shower

Heat Cramps

Symptoms:

  • Muscle spasms that are:

  • Painful

  • Involuntary

  • Brief

  • Intermittent

  • Usually self-limited (go away on their own)

Helpful Tips:

  • Sit or lie down in shade

  • Drink cool water

  • Stretch affected muscles

  • Seek medical attention if it doesn’t get better in an hour

With all this information, you may be thinking you are at a loss and had better prepare to deal with these symptoms if you are outside in the heat. Actually, there are several things you can do to help avoid all of these symptoms and illnesses.

How to avoid symptoms:

  • Drink more liquids

  • Wear loose, lightweight clothing and hat

  • Replace salt lost from sweating by drinking sports drink

  • Avoid the outdoors between 11am – 3pm

  • Wear sunscreen

  • Pace yourself when exercising

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