Archive for Wednesday, July 20, 2011

5 Questions: Hot Topic

July 20, 2011

Q: Who is most at-risk for heat-related illness?

A: The elderly, the very young, and people with mental illnesses and chronic diseases. But even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.

Q: What are some of the ways to avoid heat-related illnesses?

A: Spend more time indoors, or if a home is not air-conditioned, spend time in public facilities that are; drink plenty of water, even if you are not thirsty; avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages; wear loose, light colored clothing and sunscreen; try to schedule outdoor activities early in the day or later in the evening; limit outdoor activities; take frequent breaks to cool off; eat light meals.

Q: Is there a difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

A: Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. It is the body’s response to an excessive loss of the water and salt contained in sweat. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke.

Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Q: What are the warning signs?

A: For heat exhaustion, they include heavy sweating; paleness; muscle cramps; tiredness; weakness; dizziness; headache; and nausea or vomiting.

Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include an extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees, orally); red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating); rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness.

Q: Where can I get more information about heat-related illnesses?

A: Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Keep Your Cool in Hot Weather” page at cdc.gov/Features/ExtremeHeat.

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