Let’s face it: we’re busier in 2019 than we’ve ever been before. We’re so busy, we forget to hydrate, resulting in heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. The longer you spend in the heat, the more vigilant you must be to avoid serious heat-related illnesses. Most people often underestimate heat cramps or heat exhaustion, but this can lead to heatstroke, which can be a life-threatening emergency.
To understand how heat-related illnesses can affect you, let’s look at three of them in more detail:
Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in. The body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids and is unable to carry out its normal functions. Signs of mild dehydration include:
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Decreased urination
- Muscle cramps
Signs of severe dehydration include having very dry skin, feeling dizzy, having sunken eyes, or experiencing a rapid heartbeat or breathing.
Heat exhaustion can be the result of dehydration and occurs in conditions of extreme heat and excessive sweating without fluid and salt replacement. It’s symptoms include:
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea and/or vomiting
If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke. Heat exhaustion is treated by moving to a cool place and resting, removing excess clothing, and hydrating with a drink containing salt and sugar.
Heatstroke is the most severe form of heat illness and occurs when the body’s heat-regulating system is overwhelmed. This is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Heatstroke symptoms include the same signs of heat exhaustion, as well as:
- Rapid heart rate
- Loss of appetite
Beyond getting out of the heat, you can place ice or even a cold can against main arteries (armpits, neck, or groin area). However, if you think you or a loved one is experiencing a heat stroke, you should go to a local medical service. Being treated with fluids via IV can help with a faster recovery.
How Do I Prevent Heat-Related Illnesses
Reducing the risk of heat illnesses can be achieved through prevention. Be aware of weather conditions and remember that the most important factor in the prevention of heat illnesses is hydration. You should drink plenty of fluids, especially when doing vigorous activities. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these can be dehydrating.
If it is hot, dress in light-colored clothes. Light colors will keep you cool, so you might want to avoid black t-shirts, even if they are thin and light. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Take breaks often and drink fluids during these breaks. Also, mist yourself with a spray bottle, as this will go a long way in preventing you from overheating.
In Case You Do Overheat, See a Medical Professional
If you do get carried away in the heat and are showing signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke, come see us at the UrgentMEDs. With 18 convenient walk-in locations, we offer fast, professional service without long wait times. Visit the location closest to you today.