As summer approaches and the mercury starts to creep up the time has arrived to enjoy the outdoors once again. Winter seems all but a distant memory. Don’t let your days in the sun spell disaster. It isn’t unusual in some parts of the country to have the temperature rise 15 to 20 degrees from morning till afternoon. This is where the heat and heat stroke related problems can creep up on you. We all know that athletes that train outdoors and outside workers are primarily at risk for dehydration as well as potentially deadly heat stroke. But these are not the only people that can suffer from heat stroke, read on to find out if heat stroke is something you have to worry about., and if so what you can do to prevent heat related emergencies.
My Brush With Heat Stroke
It is easy to think that if you work in an office you are safe from heat stroke. That’s not the case. If you have certain health conditions like high blood pressure, lung diseases or heart problems the medications you take can make you susceptible to heat stroke. I had to learn this the hard way. Two summers ago I worked for a firm in a lovely industrial park, I had a great air conditioned office and seldom had to venture out into the eat of day. Normally by the time I got off the day was cooling down. One Friday night I went home as usual and it was very warm an humid. I don’t have air conditioning at home so we slept with the fans on and the windows open and it seemed comfortable enough although you were sweaty. The next day was hot but really nice out, I did my yard work and spent some time sitting on the porch, later I went and walked around the local mall to catch a movie. I came home with a screaming headache. Figuring it was the noise from the mall. I tried to eat but felt sort of sick so I tried to sleep. After a night of tossing and turning daylight finally gave way to another hot but wonderful summer day. I did eat breakfast but my stomach was still off and I felt sick. I was feeling hot but not really sweating so I wasn’t concerned and really did not connect it to the heat. I began my day but before dinner not only was the headache back but I had body pains and a stomach ache. At this point I was thinking heat exhaustion and called my doctor. Sure enough that was what it was. I was lucky, my body temperature was not that high, had I waited much longer though the end result might have been different. I would have eventually developed heat stroke.
My brush with heat stroke happened because of the medications I was taking, But there are other groups that can be at risk. The elderly and very young feel the effects of heat very easily. Young children cannot tell you if they are to hot so you have to check them often. The elderly can have problems cooling the body down. Even though they are not as active as workers or younger people, their heat body heat can become a health crisis very quick. Outdoor laborers and athletes that spend a lot of time outside also have to safe guard their health from the effects of extreme heat. We all know that keeping adequate hydration is crucial, avoid beverages high in caffeine and alcohol when the temperature is on the rise. Both dehydrate the system and increase the risks of a heat related emergency.
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Pay attention to the symptoms that could indicate a heat related emergency. If a person seems confused, complains of a headache or feeling dizzy or just seems to be unusually agitated it is probably a good idea to get them to someplace cool and shady. If you can give a cool bath or offer cool wet towels to apply to the body that would be helpful. A fan or air conditioning can help. If the symptoms have advanced to muscle cramps, vomiting or stomach pains you need to seek medical attention. Shade and water may not be enough. Heat stroke is a very serious and potentially life threatening emergency. Whether a person is sweating or not there is a chance that they are dehydrating or already to a point of heat exhaustion. Use a thermometer to take a temperature if you suspect there is a problem and notify emergency personnel for any elevated temperature. They will tell you what steps to take. Be safe this summer. Cooling down and replacing fluids is key when the temperature rises for several days in a row. If need be find someplace cool to go to during the hottest point of the day to limit your exposure to the heat.