Walking to class this summer you may have experienced how hot it gets in the middle of the day. Living in Florida we also experience high humidity levels. When the humidity is high the heat from your body doesn’t release as fast which affects your body being able to cool down. Other factors affect your body being able to cool down as fast such as obesity, age, dehydration, fever, and some illnesses. The summer is a time that many people spend outdoors. Whether you’re an athlete with summer practice, work at a summer camp, or you’re just enjoying a relaxing day by the pool you need to take precaution when the heat is extreme. The sun can do more damage than causing skin cancer; the heat can cause heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash when you’re overexposed.
Heat Related Illnesses:
Heatstroke is the most severe of heat related illnesses. It is often fatal and can cause serious damage to vital organs. Heatstroke raises your body temperature to extremely high levels causing you to become delirious or even lose consciousness. When experiencing a heatstroke it is important to lower your body temperature immediately. Some symptoms are that the person’s body is hot when touched, an altered mental status, and in conscious patients behavior can become irrational and aggressive. In severe cases a person will fall into a coma and the longer the coma lasts the less chance a person has of survival. If you see someone having a heatstroke move them to a sitting position in the shade and call 911 for help.
Heat exhaustion is defined as when a person is experiencing heavy perspiration but has a normal or slightly above normal body temperature. The cause is dehydration and is experienced by athletes and workers who work outside without drinking enough fluids. Symptoms include severe thirst, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes diarrhea, clammy or pale skin, dizziness, profuse sweating, and rapid pulse. The person might also believe that they have the flu. If you do not control heat exhaustion then it can lead to heat stroke. If you or someone around you is experiencing this then sit or lie down in the shade, and drink cool water or a sports drink. If symptoms continue then place wet towels on the ill person and call 911 for help.
Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms affecting the legs or abdominal muscles of people who tend to sweat a lot or do not drink enough fluids during physical activity. These usually come on suddenly and can be treated by sitting in the shade, drinking cool water or a sports drink, and by stretching the muscle.
- Bring water with you when you’re out in the heat and make sure to take frequent sips.
- Take frequent breaks in the shade or a cool area.
- Gradually adjust to working or exercising in the heat over a period of about a week.