Recognizing signs and symptoms of heat-related illness
The summer is really starting to heat up. That means if you’re spending time outdoors, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. There are several types of heat-related illness, ranging from temporary discomfort to heat stroke.
Heat-related illness can happen when the body’s own heat combines with extreme temperatures and causes a rise in your body’s internal temperature. The body’s typical temperature is about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. In hot weather, the body will cool itself by sweating which leads to regulation of body temperature in the safe zone. During excessive heat, strenuous exercise, or humid weather, the body may not be able to cool itself as efficiently. This can lead to heat-related illness. It can also be caused by dehydration and alcohol use.
Some groups are at higher risk, such as people older than 65 and children younger than 4. Certain medications can also put you at risk for heat-related illness, so it’s important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects that may lead to heat issues. Finally, the heat index plays a big role as well. You should be especially cautious when the temperature rises above 91 degrees Fahrenheit.
Signs and symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion:
How to prevent heat-related illness:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Avoid hot temperatures.
- Acclimate to the heat.
- Avoid strenuous exercise in the heat.
- Wear light and loose-fitting clothing.
- Know side effects of medications.
- Pay attention to how you are feeling.
- Plan to be outdoors earlier in the day.
If you think you may have signs of heat-related illness, take the necessary steps to bring your temperature down and then contact a medical professional immediately if you notice that they are getting worse. Also, keep a close eye on children and elderly. If you have neighbors who live alone, check on them in hot weather. You could save a life!