Summer Health — Heat Illness
Heat-related illness is a spectrum of disorders due to environmental exposure to heat. It includes minor conditions such as heat cramps, heat syncope, and heat exhaustion as well as the more severe condition known as heat stroke.
Your body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially when it is very humid, sweating just isn’t enough to cool you off or doesn’t work because it’s too hot and humid to evaporate. Your body temperature can rise to dangerous levels and you can develop a heat illness.
Most heat illnesses happen when you stay out in the heat too long. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Exercising and working outside in high heat can also lead to heat illness. Not being used to the heat is a risk factor for heat illness. Older adults, young children, and those who are sick or overweight are most at risk. Taking certain medicines or drinking alcohol can also raise your risk. Also dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, drug and alcohol use.
Common medications can lead to health issues if taken when there is excessive heat. They include:
Heat-related illnesses include
Heat exhaustion is marked by muscle cramps, heavy perspiring, nausea, weakness, and dizziness or faintness.
If symptoms occur, stop what you’re doing, get out of the heat, and have a cool drink. Stretch or massage cramped muscles. If cooling off doesn’t resolve faintness, or if confusion, high fever, or seizures occur, seek emergency medical help. If not treated, it can turn into heat stroke.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency that can damage almost every major organ. Symptoms can include profound confusion and a gradual loss of consciousness or even coma, racing pulse, rapid breathing, and convulsions. Body temperature soars to 105°F/>40C or more. Call for emergency help immediately.
Official medical definition: Heat stroke is defined as a core body temperature usually in excess of 40ºC (104ºF) with associated central nervous system dysfunction in the setting of a large environmental heat load that cannot be dissipated
Commonsense precautions and an awareness of symptoms can help you prevent the illnesses–or get prompt treatment for them.
Heat illnesses occur when the body’s own cooling mechanism becomes overloaded. Follow these tips to keep yourself safe:
Dress lightly in hot weather. Light, breathable (cotton), loose clothing, light colour.
Limit physical exertion on extremely hot days.
Take frequent cooling-off breaks in the shade or air conditioning.
Drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration from perspiring, and to help keep your core temperature cool.
Be very cautious with caffeine and alcohol; they can cause your body to lose more fluid than you take in.
Stay informed. Listen to local news and weather channels or contact your local public health department during extreme heat conditions for health and safety updates.
During conditions of extreme heat, spend time in locations with air-conditioning such as shopping malls, and public libraries.
Many public pools will stay open late during heat wave.
https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html — table with summary of heat contitions and what to do
How long stay outside
How much to drink
To review, what are some of the signs that you are developing heat exhaustion?
Headache · Dizziness or fainting · Weakness · Wet skin · Irritability · Thirst · Nausea or vomiting · WARNING: If you feel FAINT, CONFUSED, or if you VOMIT – you need help FAST!
Signs of heat stroke?
May be confused · May be unable to think clearly · May pass out · May collapse · May have seizures (fits) · May stop sweating
One way to gauge your hydration level is to look at the color of your urine. If you’re well-hydrated, it should be pale. Also, you’ll be urinating more frequently.
Don’t wait to be thirsty
Experts are of the opinion that one should consume about .033 litres of water per kilogram one weighs. (per day)
The arithmetic for this goes simply like this.
If you weigh 75 kgs,
75 * .033 = 2.475 (litres of water you should ideally consume)
Experts are of the opinion that one should consume about .033 litres of water per kilogram one weighs.
One guideline is 4 cups or 8 cones of water per hour when working in the hot sun.
If you go out a lot during peak heat hours, where the temperature is more than 38 degrees Celsius, make sure you consume around 3-4 litres of water, at least. Your body needs that to rehydrate itself. Also, drink one glass of water per cup of coffee that you consume, in addition to your daily dose of water. The reason being that caffeine dehydrates you, that additional glass being used to replenish that loss.
You don’t just need to drink water in its purest form. Mix it up, have some lemonade or similar stuff. Avoid carbonated drinks as much as possible (and not just in summer). Eat fruits full of water, watermelon being a good example for this.
Treatment is rapid cooling, tx of complications, hydration, replacement of electrolytes.
It is important to know the signs and symptoms of heat exposure and how you should respond. Symptoms vary according to the type of heat-related illness. Babies and young children may show signs of restlessness or irritability and have fewer wet nappies. Older people may become lightheaded, confused, weak or faint.
Some heat-related illness and common symptoms include:
The symptoms of heatstroke may be the same as for heat exhaustion, but the skin may be dry with no sweating and the person’s mental condition worsens.
If you start to feel symptoms of heat exhaustion, move to a cool place, stop physical exertion, loosen clothes, put cool wet cloths on your body, or take a cool bath, take sips of water. Fan yourself to use evaporation.
If throwing up, confused, symptoms don’t resolve, call 911.