Currently it is 95 degrees, but feels like 134 degrees, and partly cloudy with the wind north at 2 mph. Humidity is up there at 80%. Tonight there is a slight chance of thunderstorms with a high of 75 degrees. Tommorow….. yeah, yeah, yeah, I think we have all heard this trend. The summer is here and the heat is not going to be gentle. It is the end of May and already some places in the U.S. are seeing temperatures well above normal, some even hitting record highs.
This rising heat causes many complications and even deaths during the spring and summer months. Two main conditions are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. We all need to prepare ourselves for the summer as well as stay away from developing these conditions. But what exactly are these conditions and how do you stay away from getting them?
Heat exhaustion is a condition that often occurs when people exercise in a hot, humid place and their body fluids are lost through sweating, which excretes salt and water from the body causing the body to overheat. Normally as the air temperature rises, your body stays cool when your sweat evaporates, but on hot, humid days the evaporation of the seat is slowed by the increased moisture in the air.
When seat isn’t enough to cool your body, your body temperature rises and you may become ill. This condition can also develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures. Alcohol use, medications such as diuretics, neuroleptics, phenothiazines, and anticholinergics, as well as cardiovascular disease and sweat gland dysfunction can also cause heat emergencies. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, children, obese people, and people with high blood pressure.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, thirst, dark urine, loss of appetite, and fainting.
The main steps of treating heat exhaustion are to replenish the body’s lost fluids and to cool the body’s temperature. Moving the person into a cool place and out of the sun is a good start. Have the person lie down and elevate their feet. Make sure that you loosen any tight fitting clothing and also remove any extra layers of clothing. Have the person drink water, fruit juices, vegetable juices, or sports drinks to help replenish the body’s lost fluids, however never offer drinks that have alcohol or caffeine in them. Make sure that the person is to drink at leas a half of a glass of fluid every 15 minutes. Try cooling the person down by applying cool wet, cloths to the skin. If they are experiencing muscle cramps then you would need to massage the affected muscles gently until they relax.
Heat stroke on the other hand is a form of hyperthermia with accompanying physical and neurological symptoms. Normally the body generates heat as a result of metabolism and like I said before the body is usually able to release the heat through the skin or by sweating, well when we are exposed to extreme heat, humidity, and or exertion under the sun’s rays, the body temperature sometimes rises higher than 106 degrees.
The symptoms for heat stroke are along the same lines as heat exhaustion except for the possibility of hallucinations, confusion, strange behavior, disorientation, coma, seizures, and difficulty breathing, even death. If treatment is not done, there can be permanent organ damage. You want to treat it the same way you would treat heat exhaustion, except you will need to notify emergency services immediately.
As the nation continues to experience rising temperatures and swelter in the unrelenting summer sun, emergency rooms are filling up with those who are suffering from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. In 2006, 20,000 people died of the heat around the world.
Protect yourself against being among the next thousand that will die of heat related conditions by drinking cool, non alcoholic beverages. The Center for Disease Control suggests that your doctor limit the amount of fluid that you drink or if water pills are prescribed. It is good to avoid extremely cold liquids because they can cause stomach cramps. Please be aware that some medications can make you more vulnerable to heat exhaustion. Seek air conditioning environments if possible, take a trip to the mall or library to just cool off if needed. Wear lightweight clothing, and remain indoors during the hottest parts of the day.
The high temperatures are here folks and I believe that we need to start dealing with it because it is going to get worse, and if adjust to it, that is only half of the battle.