It’s that time of year again; children are out of school, pools are opening up, and walking outside can feel like stepping into a blazing oven. The summer can be a great time of the year, but if appropriate measures are not taken the heat can cause severe illnesses such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body has been exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods of time. Gardening, hiking, barbecuing, as well as many other outdoor activities involve us being exposed to the summer heat for hours upon hours. Although our bodies have a natural way of decreasing our core temperature by sweating, this mechanism is not likely to work if you are losing too much fluid for your body to replace on its own. When this happens your body begins to produce an excessive amount of heat that it is unable to release, causing the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion. In extreme cases excessive amounts of heat can cause the body to lose all control over its temperature which can lead to a life-threatening illness called heat stroke..
Heat Exhaustion signs and symptoms to watch out for:
Warning! If you or someone around you starts to experience the following heat stroke symptoms call 911 immediately:
Are you at risk for developing heat exhaustion or heat stroke?
The following are factors and demographics that put you at an increased risk for developing heat stroke:
The bad news is that heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be severe; leading to seizures, coma, or even death. The good news is that both illnesses are preventable. The following are possible methods to prevent becoming overheated during the summer months:
If you develop signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion it is important to know what to do next. The primary treatment for heat exhaustion is to find a cool, shady spot or air-conditioned room to recover in. You will also need to replenish the fluids you have lost by drinking cool fluids such as water or sports drinks. Again, you want to avoid drinks that could further dehydrate you. Spraying yourself with cold water or taking a cool shower can also help your symptoms if you develop heat exhaustion.
If you have developed severe heat exhaustion or heat stroke, then it is important to seek medical attention so that you can receive appropriate fluids and electrolytes. Depending on the severity you may need to remain in the hospital for a while so that you can be closely monitored.
Be aware that it can take up to 24-48 hours to recover from heat exhaustion.. You should take this time to rest. Any strenuous activity should be avoided, especially outside, until you have fully recovered.
For additional information over heat stroke or heat exhaustion go to http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/faq.asp