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Prevent Summer's Heat-Related Illnesses

May 17, 2019

Heat stroke, an abnormally elevated body temperature, is a common form of heat-related illness that most often occurs when people are engaging in outdoor activities on hot, humid days. The warning signs of heat-related illness include fatigue, headache, dizziness, mental confusion, muscle cramps, rapid breathing, nausea, and vomiting.

"To prevent heat stroke, avoid outside physical exertion during the hottest times of the day, usually between 2 and 5 p.m.," advises Courtney Sutherland, MD, a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. "If you must be outdoors, wear light, loose-fitting clothing, stay hydrated with water, and avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, which dehydrate you."

Dr. Sutherland says that classic heat stroke is more common in the elderly but can also occur in the young and healthy, and even in infants. Heat stroke is a true medical emergency requiring immediate attention. Left untreated, it can result in permanent disabilities or death.

"If you have elderly or at-risk neighbors or family members, check on them during the day for signs of heat-related illness," she says. "Make sure they have access to electric fans. If it's particularly hot, transport them to an air-conditioned location. Should someone show signs of heat illness, get them to a cooler environment, moisten their skin with lukewarm water, fan them, and call 911 for assistance.”

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