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If You Can’t Take the Heat…
Jun 8th, 2011 Headlines

Extremely hot weather can be dangerous to your health. Here is some clarification on what a heat stroke is and how to keep it from happening to you.

A heat stroke occurs in hot weather when the body can’t cool itself down, salve raising your body temperature to dangerously high levels.  Not only will a patient usually have a fever, more about but they may also have confusion, more about odd behavior, a rapid pulse, trouble breathing, seizures, and dry red skin.  If it isn’t treated quickly enough, heat strokes can be fatal.

Heat stroke and other conditions, like heat exhaustion and heat cramps all fall under the heading of “heat-related illness”. These conditions are essentially on the same continuum and vary by degree.  Heat cramps, being the most minor, occur when you get belly cramps or arm or leg cramps. A heat stroke, on the other hand, is the most severe.  For all of these heat-related conditions, it is important to cool the body down to relieve the symptoms.

What causes heat stroke? Your body is designed to get rid of heat by sweating. When it’s hot and humid, the water can’t evaporate from your skin making it harder to sweat.  And if you’re dehydrated, you can’t effectively generate sweat.  That can eventually cause your body temperature to climb to 106 or higher.

As with most things, babies, the elderly, people with underlying medical conditions like heart and lung problems are at higher risk.  In addition, athletes or workers who are physically exerting themselves out in the sun, are most at risk of heat stroke.  Also, certain medications, such as antihistamines, can increase your risk.  During the current allergy season, it is important for those who are on antihistamines for their allergies to be especially careful.

How do you treat a heat stroke? If someone is dizzy, confused, or vomiting, call 911. In the meantime, try to cool them down by taking off clothes, using cold packs, or splashing them with lukewarm water and fanning them off.

To prevent heat strokes, drink plenty of fluids and avoid vigorous activity when it’s hot and humid outside. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you.  Wear lightweight and light colored clothing. It may be helpful to pay attention to the heat index, which is how hot it feels when you’re in the shade. Keep in mind that this is not the same as the temperature.  As humidity increases, so does the heat index and a heat index of 90 degrees or more is dangerous.

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