Don’T Let The Heat Get You

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Record heat is expected in the Valley this weekend and in the Rim Country temperatures are forecast to range from the mid to high 90s. It is a good deal cooler than the extreme of 115, but still quite a bit warmer than most of us are used to.

Prolonged or intense exposure to hot temperatures can cause heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat stroke, according to webmd.com. The following information came from the site’s articles from The Red Cross, American Academy of Family Physicians and other sources.

As your body works to cool itself under extreme or prolonged heat, blood rushes to the surface of your skin. As a result, less blood reaches your brain, muscles, and other organs. With prompt treatment, most people recover completely from heat illness, but heat stroke can be deadly.

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses too much water and salt through excessive sweating. Individuals who have heart problems or are on low-sodium diets may be particularly susceptible to heat exhaustion, often signaled by heat.

Heat stroke, the most serious of the heat-related illnesses, occurs when the body suffers from long, intense exposure to heat and loses its ability to cool itself. In prolonged, extreme heat, the part of the brain that normally regulates body temperature malfunctions, decreasing the body’s ability to sweat and, therefore, cool down.

What Are the Symptoms?

Heat cramp symptoms include: severe, sometimes disabling, cramps that typically begin suddenly in the hands, calves or feet; hard, tense muscles.

Heat exhaustion symptoms include: fatigue; nausea; headaches; excessive thirst; muscle aches and cramps; weakness; confusion or anxiety; drenching sweats, often accompanies by cold, clammy skin; slowed or weakened heartbeat; dizziness; fainting; agitation. Heat exhaustion requires immediate attention, but is not usually life-threatening.

Heat stroke symptoms include: nausea and vomiting; headache; dizziness or vertigo; fatigue; hot, flushed dry ski; rapid heart rate; decreased sweating; shortness of breath; decreased urination; blood in urine or stool; increased body temperature (between 104 and 106 degrees); confusion, delirium or loss of consciousness; convulsions.

Heat stroke can occur suddenly. If a person is experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, medical care should be obtained immediately.

Prevention

The following tips may help prevent a heat-related illness.

• Avoid strenuous activity in hot, humid weather or during the hottest part of the day and use caution if you have health risks.

• Drink plenty of water before, during, and after you are active. Fluids such as rehydration drinks, juices or water help replace lost fluids, especially if you sweat a lot. Sports drinks with electrolytes work best.

• Drink on schedule. Two hours before exercising, drink 24 ounces of fluid. Drink 16 ounces of fluid 15 minutes before exercising. Continue drinking 8 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes while exercising.

• Check your urine. Urine should be clear to pale yellow, and there should be a large amount if you are drinking adequately. You should urinate every 2 to 4 hours during an activity when you are staying properly hydrated.

• Do not spend much time in the sun. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing in hot weather, so your skin can cool through evaporation.

• Stay cool as much as possible. Take frequent breaks in the shade, by a fan, or in air-conditioning. Cool your skin by spraying water over your body. Take a cool bath or shower 1 to 2 times a day in hot weather.

• If you have to stand for any length of time in a hot environment, flex your leg muscles often while standing. This prevents blood from pooling in your lower legs, which can lead to fainting.

• Do not drink caffeine or alcohol. They increase blood flow to the skin and increase your risk of dehydration.

Home treatment

When recognized in the early stages, most heat-related illnesses, such as mild heat exhaustion, can be treated at home.

•Stop your activity, and rest.

•Get out of direct sunlight and lie down in a cooler environment. •Drink rehydration drinks, juices, or water to replace fluids. Drink 2 quarts of cool fluids over 2 to 4 hours. Total rehydration with oral fluids usually takes about 36 hours.

• Rest for 24 hours, and continue fluid replacement. Rest from any strenuous physical activity for 1 to 3 days.

Heat cramps are treated by getting out of the heat and replacing fluids and salt.

Heat rash usually gets better and goes away without treatment. Antihistamines may help with itching. Keep areas clean and dry to help prevent a skin infection. Do not use baby powder while a rash is present. The powder can build up in the skin.

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