Heat Related Illness

With a heat wave hitting much of the east coast, I thought it would be a good time to send out a reminder about the dangers of heat related illnesses.  Today I am going to discuss three heat related illnesses.  The first is heat cramps.  Heat cramps are cramps usually in the calf or stomach […]

With a heat wave hitting much of the east coast, I thought
it would be a good time to send out a reminder about the dangers of heat related
illnesses.  Today I am going to discuss
three heat related illnesses.  The first
is heat cramps.  Heat cramps are cramps
usually in the calf or stomach region induced by exercising or working in hot
temperatures.  The second condition is
heat exhaustion.  Heat exhaustion results
from strenuous work or exercise in excessive heat and is the most prevalent
form of heat related illness.  The third
condition is heat stroke.  Heat stroke is
a life threatening condition occurring when the body is unable to cool itself
properly and multiple body systems start to fail.  The goal of today’s post is to raise
awareness about these conditions by reviewing the symptoms and then offering
ways to treat these conditions.

 

The exact cause of heat cramps is unknown, however the care
for one is known.  Have the individual
suffering with the cramp rest in a cool place.
Lightly stretch the muscle then grasp the muscle and firmly squeeze it
while stretching.  Make sure they drink
lots of water or a sports drink with electrolytes.  Usually after rehydration and rest
individuals can resume normal activity.

 

Heat exhaustion can occur with exercise or even while just
resting in the heat.  It is an indicator that
the body’s temperature-regulating system is becoming overwhelmed.  Signs of heat exhaustion include:

-normal or below normal body temperature

-cool, moist pale skin

-headache

-nausea

-dizziness and weakness

-exhaustion

Treatment of heat exhaustion is rest, proper hydration, and
removing the person from the hot environment.
Be aware heat exhaustion can escalate to heat stroke.  Watch for changes in levels of consciousness
or vomiting.

 

Heat stroke is extremely serious.  With this condition the body’s temperature
regulation system is so overwhelmed that sweating stops and the body cannot
cool itself.  When core temperatures
elevate many body systems can shut down and vital organs such as the heart and
kidneys can fail.  The result can be
convulsions, coma, or death.  Symptoms of
heat stroke include:

-high body temperature (can be up to 106)

-red, hot skin (dry or moist)

-changes in level of consciousness

-rapid or weak pulse

-rapid or shallow breathing

If someone has one or more of these symptoms lie the person
down, cool them with any means available, and call 911 immediately!  In this situation the person is likely to
refuse water or be vomiting.  Monitor
their breathing and wait for help to arrive.

 

With the heat on the rise make sure to limit outdoor
activity to cooler times of the day such as early morning or late evening.  Watch for the air quality reports on the news
and ALWAYS stay hydrated whether exercising outdoors or indoors.  I would like to give credit to the American
Red Cross’s third edition of First Aid Responding to Emergencies,  copyright 2001.

 

Stay cool!