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Degrees of Danger: Heat Stroke
Houston is home to sweltering humidity and dangerously hot temperatures during the summer. Conditions of extreme heat can be hazardous and even life-threatening, which is why it’s important to be aware of the most serious heat-related illness: heatstroke.
“Also called sun stroke, heatstroke occurs when your body becomes overheated in a relatively short period of time and is unable to cool itself back down to normal temperatures,” says Wilber Estrada, MD, a board-certified Internal Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. Without immediate medical attention, heatstroke can be fatal.
“Warning signs of heatstroke may vary but include fatigue, headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting,” says Dr. Estrada. “To prevent heatstroke, it’s best to avoid the outdoors during the hottest time of the day, which is 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. If you must be outdoors, try to drink water every 15 to 20 minutes, wear light, loose-fitting clothing, and take frequent breaks in the shade to cool down.”
Dr. Estrada explains how to act quickly if you see someone showing signs of a heatstroke since, left untreated, heatstroke can result in permanent disability or even death.
“Move them to a shaded area or air-conditioned environment, cool the person by moistening their skin with water, have the person drink cool water if they’re able, and most importantly, call 911 for emergency assistance,” Dr. Estrada says.
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