Heat related illnesses can vary in severity and may be life-threatening. You may be in the garden or mowing during the hottest time of the day, watching or playing in a regional baseball tourney or just working outdoors and being exposed.
Certain medical conditions, environmental factors medication use and inadequate acclimation may put you at risk. They include:
Alcohol.Antidepressants, B blockers, diuretics, antihistamines and amphetamines and other illicit drugs.Excessive clothing.Sedentary lifestyle.age under 15 or over 65.Obesity.Diabetes, heart disease, recent illness.Hugh humidity.Heat edema occurs when the legs swell from the heat and is treated with elevation of the legs not diuretics. Muscles cramps are treated with massage, stretching and fluid replacement. They occur after prolonged or intense physical activity. Heat rash is caused when occluded pores trap sweat5 in the skin, resulting in a red rash or pustules.
Heat exhaustion is characterized by core temp of up to 104 degrees F and mild cooling, rest and rehydration are recommended . There are no mental status changes.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency and occurs when the body temp reaches 105 degrees F with multi-organ damage and central nervous system dysfunction. There may be seizures, confusion, delerium, loss of consciousness and coma.Ice water or cold water emersion is recommended. Abstaining from physical activity for 7 days is recommended.
It is important to remember to get the ill person out of the sun and in the shade and if alert offer cool fluids. For heat exhaustion use wet cool towels or ice packs and place them on the patient to help with cooling. Excessive clothing or gear should be removed. Use fans or water mist and if heat stroke present go to the ER. It is important to "cool first and transfer second."
To prevent these heat related problems:
Hydrate adequately.wear light colored loose fitting clothes.Frequent rest breaks.Protect your skin with lip and sunscreen and a wide brimmed straw hat.avoid activity during extreme heat.
Dr Drake is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is a past president of the Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and has practiced in Somerset since 1984.
Information for this article was from American Family Physician April 15, 2019