Medical Center Provides Tips To Prevent Heat-Related Illness

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PERTH AMBOY–With summer almost here and hot weather in the forecast Raritan Bay Medical Center’s Medical Director of Emergency Services Dr. Dane Clarke provides the following tips to cope with hot weather.

General Tips

  • Spend whatever time possible in air-conditioned areas, even if only for a few hours each day.
  • Ensure adequate food (light meals) and fluid intake. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, and see your physician about whether you need additional salt.
  • Whenever possible, reduce activity levels in very hot weather.
  • The elderly are particularly susceptible to the effects of heat, they or their caretakers should pay special attention to heat-related health tips.
  • Young children under five years of age, especially less than one-year-old, are sensitive to heat’s effects, parents and caretakers should be careful not to overdress them, and to give them plenty of fluids.
  • Wear a hat when outdoors
  • Exercise early or late in the day
  • Some pets can be affected by the heat. Ask your veterinarian for advice.
  • In cases of health emergencies, you should call your physician, or visit your local hospital emergency room.

Specific Health Concerns

Heat Stroke (sunstroke) is a substantial rise in body temperature when the body cannot rid itself of excess heat

What to look for:

  • skin very hot and dry (usually no sweat)
  • very rapid onset
  • dizziness, nausea, confusion, often unconsciousness

What to do:

  • move the person to a cool area
  • lower body temperature AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE
  • immerse in or pour cool water over the person
  • SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY – HEAT STROKE CAN BE FATAL

Heat Exhaustion is a mild form of shock from excess exposure to heat

What to look for:

  • pale and clammy skin, profuse sweating
  • body temperature close to normal
  • headache, dizziness, fatigue, sometimes abdominal cramps

What to do:

  • move the person to a cool area
  • make the person as cool as possible while preventing a chill (watch for shivering)
  • if the person is conscious, give cool water to drink
  • seek medical attention as quickly as possible

Heat Rash (prickly heat) is a rash caused by blocked sweat ducts

What to look for:

  • skin rash
  • tingling or prickling sensation where the rash is

What to do:

  • shower or wash frequently
  • dry thoroughly
  • change into dry clothing
  • avoid exposure to heat until the rash is gone

Heat Cramps are painful muscle cramps resulting from profuse perspiration

What to look for:

  • mild to severe cramps in the arms, legs, and/or abdomen from working in a hot environment
  • pale, moist skin with heavy sweating
  • occasional nausea or faintness

What to do:

  • move the person to a cool area
  • do not massage muscles
  • if not nauseated, slowly give one or two glasses of a sport drink
  • do not resume the activity which caused the cramps for at least 12 hours or the cramps may return

Heat Syncope is a loss of consciousness because of decreased blood flow to the heart and brain as the blood pools in the extremities

What to look for:

  • sudden loss of consciousness
  • person suddenly regains consciousness when lying down

What to do:

  • allow person to rest
  • remove the person from the environment or activity which caused the person to lose consciousness
  • Call 911

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