Heat Related Illnesses during extreme heat are preventable

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Heat Related Illnesses during extreme heat are preventable

Postby dlcnurse » Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:46 am

During the summer heat that many states have had over the last few weeks brings to mind heat related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or heat rashes. These type of illnesses can occur rapidly without warning when the weather is hot.

Heat related illnesses and death is preventable, yet there are many people who die annually from extreme heat. So what is extreme heat? Extreme heat is temperatures above 90 degrees. Our bodies normally generate heat as a result of the bodies metabolism and can usually cool itself through sweating. People who have high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, lung disease, or mental illness are more prone to heat illnesses. People who are on multi-drug regimens are also prone, infants and children and the elderly are more easily affected by the heat and because of normal body aging may not be able to effectively regulate their body heat.

Many of us take our bodies for granted and are not able to associate symptoms of fatigue, weakness, difficulty breathing, or feelings of faintness, dizziness when we get too hot during hot weather.

The signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, weak pulse and fast and shallow breathing, nausea and vomiting, and headache.
The signs of heat stroke are very similar; exttremely high body temperature, greater than 103 degrees, red, hot and dry skin, rapid strong pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, the inability to sweat, and unconsciousness can occur. Heat stroke is a true medical emergency with the accompanying physical and neurological symptoms mentioned. Immediate treatment is essential in preventing injury and death.

The best defense against heat related illness is prevention. You can
easily decrease the risk by drinking plenty of fluids, try to avoid sugar drinks as these can actually cause more dehydration, replace salt and minerals, unless it is contra-indicated by your doctor, for example if you take water tablets for heart related illnesses, wear appropriate clothing, schedule outdoor activities carefully, best time to be outdoors is during morning hours or evening hours, and keeping cool indoors.

During high humidity, fans will not cool the body down, they only circulate hot air. If at all possible, go to a mall or somewhere that has air conditioning, even if it is just for a few hours. Taking a cool shower also helps to cool the body down.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has a excellant heat prevention guide to promote health and safety during extreme heat. I would encourage you to browse through it and explore how you can prevent heat related illnesses. You can find it here:

http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extreme ... _guide.asp
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