Signs of Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
When summer temperatures reach the mid 90s, heat-related illnesses can happen quickly and have serious consequences. But if you're working out in the sun, you might not recognize the signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion until the damage is done.
In addition to sunburn, heat rash and cramps, exposure to the hot summer sun can cause two dangerous conditions: heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion occurs when you combine several days of exposure to heat with dehydration. The elderly, people with high blood pressure and people working or exercising outdoors are most likely to suffer from heat exhaustion.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea and fainting. Treatment is fairly straightforward. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you drink cool beverages -- no alcohol or caffeine; rest; take a cool shower or bath; get in air condition and wear lightweight clothing.
Because heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, seek medical attention if symptoms continue, the CDC says.
Like heat exhaustion, heat stroke is influenced by exertion in hot temperatures and dehydration. But with heat stroke the body has trouble regulating its temperature, which can rise rapidly and dangerously. Sweating may cease, and your body will be unable to cool down. When that happens, heat stroke can cause death or serious injury.
Symptoms include a body temperature above 103 degrees; red, hot and dry skin; rapid pulse; headache; dizziness; nausea; and confusion and unconsciousness.
If you see someone experiencing any of these symptoms, get them out of the sun and into a shady area immediately, the CDC recommends. Call 911 and while you wait for emergency responders, try to cool them with cool water from a garden hose or immerse them in a tub of cold water. You can also wrap them in a cool wet sheet or sponge them with cool water.
Of course, you're better off preventing heat stroke and heat exhaustion in the first place. The best way to avoid heat-related illnesses: Stay out of the heat. But if you have to work outside, here are some tips that can help keep you safe:
• Keep cook and use common sense.
• Take frequent breaks in the shade or inside an air-conditioned vehicle or building.
• Drink plenty of fluid and replace salts and minerals.
• Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen. [LINK]
• Monitor yourself and others around you for symptoms of heat stroke or exhaustion.
People who take psychotropic drugs, medications for Parkinson's disease, tranquilizers or diuretic medications are at higher risk for heat-related illnesses. Ditto for people with diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
If you have to go outside during the heat of the day, remember these tips and make sure you know how to recognize the danger signs. Staying cool in the heat can help you stay safe.