Excessive heat can be deadly | Health Beat

A person drinks water from her blue water bottle.
Arm yourself with information to beat the heat. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

As the mercury rises during the summer, heat sickness is a concern, especially among the young, the elderly and those who exercise on the sports field or elsewhere.

So if you’re heading out this summer, whether you’re working in your backyard, running along the beach, or exercising in the park, make sure you know the signs of the different types of heat-related illness and what to do. do about them.

5 main types of heat-related illnesses:

1. Heat Cramps

What it is: This is cramping you may feel in your muscles due to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, muscle fatigue, or a combination of these factors. Symptoms may include heavy sweating, thirst, fatigue, and pain in the arms, abdomen, or legs. That Charley horse is more than pain, it’s a sign that something is wrong in your body. NB.

What must we do: Drink plenty of cold water and sports drinks with electrolytes. Rest in a cool place out of the sun.

2. Heat syncope

What it is: Heat syncope often occurs in people who have not yet become acclimatized to the heat, in someone who has been sitting or standing for a long time, immediately after cessation of activity, or after getting up quickly, resting or sitting. Symptoms include fainting, dizziness, and light-headedness for a short time.

It is attributed to the rapid opening of blood vessels in the extremities, accumulation of blood, poor return of blood to the heart, dehydration, decreased cardiac output and changes in blood flow in the brain.

What must we do: Sit or lie down in a cool place and slowly drink water, sports drinks, or clear juices.

3. Exercise or Heat Exhaustion

What it is: Exhaustion is most common in hot and humid temperatures and is often difficult to distinguish from heat stroke when it is in its worst stages.

Symptoms include heavy sweating, inability to continue exercising due to lack of energy, cold and clammy skin, rapid pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, decreased urine output, weakness, paleness (person may look pale) , persistent muscle cramps all over the body, fainting, hyperventilation and body temperatures ranging from 97-103 degrees. This is the stage of heat illness just before heat stroke.

What must we do: Heat exhaustion must be recognized and treated quickly. Provide first aid and medical care. All excess clothing (including shoes or hats) and clothing soaked with water or sweat should be removed. If the person is alert and not vomiting, have them drink cold sports drinks or cold water if sports drinks (with sodium) are not available.

Move the person to a cooler location, placing ice packs on the body, focusing especially on the armpit, groin, and neck. Use cold towels on hands, feet and head. Blow cool air on the person. Consider immersion in cold water. If the person’s temperature rises above 102 degrees, or if the dizziness persists after the person lies down with their legs raised, seek emergency medical attention.

4. Heat Stroke

What it is: Heat stroke is life-threatening. It occurs when the body’s temperature-regulating system is overwhelmed. This usually happens due to extreme outdoor conditions that prevent the body from cooling itself.

Symptoms include dry and warm skin, nausea, irrational behavior, rapid and shallow breathing, fast and weak pulse, disorientation, drowsiness and a temperature above 104 degrees.

What must we do: Call 911 or get emergency medical help. In the meantime, move the person to a cool location, remove excess clothing including shoes and hats, place ice packs on the body, especially targeting the armpit, groin, and neck. If possible, submerge the individual in cold water.

Use cold towels on hands, feet and head. Blow cool air on the person. Health professionals often use intravenous (IV) fluids to quickly rehydrate the person suffering from heat stroke. Blood tests and urinalysis will often be performed to ensure that the body returns to normal. After heat stroke, it is possible to see complications with internal body temperature regulation. Sometimes recovery from heat stroke can take up to a year for central nervous system, liver, and kidney functions to be considered normal.

5. Exercise Hyponatremia

What it is: Exercise-associated hyponatremia is a rare condition that occurs when a person ingests too much water or low-sodium beverages relative to the amount of sweat released from the body. This ensures a low sodium level in the body. The result can cause potentially fatal neurological and physiological dysfunctions. Symptoms include disorientation, altered mental status, headache, vomiting, lethargy, swelling of hands and feet, pulmonary edema, cerebral edema, and seizures.

What must we do: Call 911 or get emergency medical help. This condition can be treated by fluid reduction in the body and drinks that contain enough sodium.