Skip to main content

Avoid Heat-Related Health Problems

Enjoy the hot weather, but do it safely. Heat-related conditions can put a damper on an otherwise glorious day  if you don’t take precautions. We will look at three of the major heat-related conditions: heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat cramps.

Heat exhaustion results simply from spending too much time in the heat. It occurs when perspiration leads to excess loss of body fluids and salts. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, light-headedness, severe headache, cool, clammy skin, heavy perspiration, shallow breathing, muscle tremors and cramping. Place the victim in a cool area, raise the feet, lower the head and get medical attention immediately. To prevent heat exhaustion, drink extra amounts of liquids  to replace body fluids lost through sweating. Water and fruit juices are preferable to tea, soft drinks, coffee or alcohol. Prevention is possible: schedule strenuous activities during early morning or evening hours, when the temperature is cooler. If you are outdoors, drink plenty of fluids and plan frequent breaks in the shade.

Heatstroke is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperature — being in a hot house, or out in the sun too long. Signs and symptoms of heatstroke may include:

  • Red, dry face, hot skin
  • Temperature of 105º F or more
  • Strong pulse
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Headache
  • Fainting, which may be the first sign in older adults

If you suspect heatstroke:

  • Move the person out of the sun and into a shady or air-conditioned space.
  • Call 911 or emergency medical help.
  • Have the person drink cool water or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine, if he or she is able.
  • Place the victim in a semi-sitting position to reduce the amount of hot blood going to the head.
  • Spray the body and head with tepid (not cold) water and cool by large fans to maximize evaporative heat loss.

Athletes and the elderly are more prone to heatstroke. To avoid heatstroke, stay out of the sun as much as possible. Take frequent cold baths or showers, use fans or open windows to circulate the air.

Heat cramps are muscle cramps brought on by exercise and the resulting loss of sodium through sweating. Treat this condition by stopping the exercise. Move to a cooler place and lightly stretch the affected muscle. Drink plenty of fluids, give the person 4-5 ounces of water every 15 minutes. Do not drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages, this can worsen the condition.

The summer can be particularly dangerous for the elderly. During especially hot days, check on them frequently.

Keywords: health, Health and Fitness, Health Concerns, St. Bernard Hospital

Posted in Neighborhood News, Health, Education

Share your opinion

Sign in or join to comment

Connect with us

Stay up to date with the the latest news and events related to the portal.

Share your story

What's going on in Englewood? Share your story and become an author on the portal.

Powered by Teamwork Englewood

Uniting organizations serving Englewood residents and working toward the common goal of building a stronger community.

More about Teamwork Englewood »