How to survive a heat wave
This summer is expected to be one of the hottest on record, and with extreme temperatures come the dangers of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
According to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this past May was the 30th consecutive month of soaring global temperatures. In fact, this is the longest and hottest streak since the NOAA started recording temperatures back in 1880.
With record warmth, it is important to remember the health risks associated with heat and the safety precautions that can be taken during extremely high temperatures.
Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to regulate its temperature and can lead to death or permanent disability. High body temperatures; red, dry skin with no sweating; strong pulse and a throbbing headache are the biggest indicators of heat stroke in a patient. In later stages, confusion and disorientation can also suggest heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion, on the other hand, is a more mild illness and results from excessive exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. The most common warning signs are heavy sweating, paleness, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
“Although heat exhaustion is not as serious as heat stroke, be sure to monitor your symptoms, because it can turn into heat stroke if it’s not addressed. If you start to vomit or experience any symptoms of heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately,” says Dr. Matthew Belden, an emergency department physician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital’s in Downers Grove, Ill.
Dr. Belden suggests the following tips to stay cool and avoid heat illness this summer:
- Stay indoors as much as possible and limit your exposure to the sun. This is the easiest way to reduce your contact with the heat.
- Wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothes.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
- Turn on the air-conditioning in your house or spend some time in an air-conditioned public place such as the library, mall or movie theater.
- Don’t overexert yourself by working or exercising outside. If you do have to work outside, be sure to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks to ensure you don’t overheat.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.