Summertime is probably a favorite of most people in Pittsburgh. Aside from the humidity, the warm sunny weather brings everyone young and old outside to play or work and enjoy being out of the house. With the increased heat of July, August, and September the risks of being outside do increase though. Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke are two similar but different risks to being outside in the summer sun. Would you know how to tell the difference if a loved one was suffering from one of these conditions?
There are ways to immediately cut your risks of getting either of these uncomfortable or life threatening conditions. Time your outdoor exercise or yard work to fall outside of the hottest times of the day which are between 11am and 4pm. If temperatures were to be greater than 104 Degrees you should avoid strenuous outdoor work for that day! Working on days when the humidity is high also increases your risk because the humidity prevents your body from being able to adequately cool itself.
Heat Exhaustion is a condition caused by dehydration and can lead to Heat Stroke which is a medical emergency. To prevent Heat Exhaustion make sure that you take breaks from strenuous work, allow your body to cool down in the shade or in an air conditioned room, and drink plenty of fluids (Water and Sports Drinks). A good rule of thumb is drink a cup of water for every 15 minutes of strenuous outdoor activity or exercise.
Symptoms/Signs of Heat Exhaustion.
Thirst, nausea, vomiting, pale moist skin (cool to the touch), rapid breathing rates, weakness, headache, muscle cramps and a feeling of light headedness.
If you feel you or a loved one has a case of heat exhaustion encourage them to get to a shaded area or better yet an area with air conditioning. It may also help to have them lie down or recline and elevate their feet. Cool compresses on the neck and armpits also helps to speed the recovery process. You could also have them cool off in a cool shower and drink water slowly. Gorging with water will not help, they need to drink a half cup of water every 15 minutes and replenish the water at a consistent pace. If this doesn’t take care of the symptoms please have them seek medical attention immediately.
Heat Stroke is a much more dangerous situation that usually results from a case of heat exhaustion that has gone too far and is untreated. Heat Stroke is when the body is no longer able to cool by sweating and begins to shut down. The body overheats and can do substantial damage to internal organs. Heat Stroke can be fatal if the patient is not treated quickly by medical professionals.
Heat Stroke Signs/symptoms.
Fever as high as 105!, irritability, dry red hot skin, fainting, rapid but very shallow breathing, confusion, rapid pulse but very weak to detect, seizures, and coma.
If you feel that a loved one may have heat stroke seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY. Call 911. Be ready to give CPR if necessary. If you can get the person indoors where it is cooler, do so right away. Elevate their feet a bit, try using cool compresses on the neck and especially in the armpits. Have them drink water slowly as well. Follow the guideline of 1/2 cup of water every 15 minutes until help arrives.
Other things you can do to help prevent both of these conditions is to limit your alcohol intake and caffeine intake while you are outside in the heat. If you are at a picnic or ball game make sure that you are substituting water in between alcoholic beverages to make sure that you don’t get dehydrated.
We all want you to be able to enjoy your summer because no one wants to be stuck in the hospital with a condition they could have prevented with a little planning and sense. We hope you all have a great, happy, and healthy summer! Don’t forget to stop in and see us for sunblock for your summer vacations and pool parties!!
Reasonable effort and care have been taken to prepare this blog, and the information provided is believed to be accurate at the time of posting. However, this information is not intended to constitute and “authoritative statement” under food and drug administration rules and regulations. When in doubt please make sure to contact your pharmacist or physician when making dietary changes, or regarding medical treatment and other related issues. This blog is meant to be informative, Spartan Pharmacy asks that you please use this information as a reference and not a replacement for proper medical treatment. Please, leave that to the professionals!
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