There are several types of heat-related illness with varying degrees of intensity. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these illnesses are categorized as heat rash, sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and the more extreme of the lot, heatstroke. Each heat-related illness should be dealt with in different ways.
Heat Rash and Sunburn
As the name implies, heat rash looks like a regular rash (small pimples on the skin), and generally appear on the neck, chest or groin. If you’re experiencing heat rash, try to keep the area affected dry and bring your temperature down. Sunburn can range from mild to very bad; it can be just a sensitivity or pain along the affected area, or it can manifest in the form of blisters. In either case, you should stay out of the sun, use a moisturizing lotion, and avoid breaking the blisters. Stay indoors and in the air conditioning.
Dehydration happens when your body loses water and essential body salts. When your body heats up, it attempts to regulate the temperature sweating. Sweating cools the body as the sweat evaporates. If you find yourself dehydrated, you should drink water. Two bottles of water should see you fully hydrated after 45 minutes.
If your muscles begin to hurt or spasm and you find yourself sweating heavily, you should stop all physical activity. Find a cool place, drink water, and rest for at least an hour before renewing physical activity. If you have heart issues, are on a low salt diet, or your cramps last for over an hour, you should seek out medical attention.
This is the next level up from heat cramps. You have the same symptoms, but you could also experience a fast and/or weak pulse. You may also become unusually tired and weak. Headaches, dizziness, and clammy skin are also symptoms of heat exhaustion. The best thing to do is to find a place with air conditioning, make sure your clothes are loose, slowly drink water, and even take a bath. If your symptoms get worse, last over an hour, or you find yourself vomiting, it is time to seek a medical professional.
Heatstroke is more intense than heat exhaustion though it shares many of the same symptoms. Aside from the symptoms of heat exhaustion, you may experience confusion and even loss of consciousness. Your body temperature may climb over 103 degrees Fahrenheit, and your skin may feel hot and dry to the touch, as well as become red. Heatstroke is quite serious and should be treated as a medical emergency. Call 911 right away, move the affected person to an air-conditioned environment, and try lowering their temperature using water on their skin. It is not recommended to give someone suffering from heatstroke anything to drink. However, let the person drink cool water to rehydrate if he or she is able. Don’t give sugary, caffeinated, or alcoholic beverages to a person with heatstroke.
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