Prevention is Key With Heat Exhaustion

Published On July 16, 2015 | July/August 2015

Scott & White offers their sound advice

Baylor Scott & White

June 21 marked the first day of summer, that was the beginning of what had become a hot summer in Central Texas. Although summertime in Texas is ideal for outdoor events such as family barbecues and swimming parties – with these outdoor activities come the dangers of heat-related illness for adults and children.

The old adage, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen,” is particularly important this time of the year, says Jeff Jarvis, M.D., emergency medicine physician at Scott & White Healthcare – Round Rock. Jarvis explains that heat exhaustion is a serious illness triggered by insufficient body fluids and prolonged exposure to heat. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, tiredness, clammy skin, extreme thirst, muscle cramps, and often nausea or vomiting. Heat exhaustion can quickly progress to heat stroke, a medical emergency.

“A heat stroke occurs when the body’s cooling system fails and the body cannot regulate its temperature. Warning signs include increased body temperature, dry skin, a rapid pulse, disorientation, or unconsciousness,” explains Dr. Jarvis. Heat stroke can cause permanent disability or even death — call 911 if you think someone is having a heat stroke. Until help arrives, move the victim to a cool, shaded area, remove excess clothing and dampen the skin with moist cloths.

While the summer heat can take a toll on anyone, those at most risk include:
Children under the age of four
Seniors over age 65
Overweight individuals
Persons who are already ill or taking medications

“The solution is water, water, and more water,” says Dr. Jarvis. “Staying hydrated with plenty of cool water is the most effective tool in preventing heat-related illnesses. In extreme heat, the body cannot disperse heat properly and body temperature soars. Water helps the body adjust to high temperatures and restore fluid lost through sweating.”

Dr. Jarvis goes on to say, “Don’t forget the sunscreen as well.”
Hot Day, Dehydration
Some additional tips for dealing with the sun’s rays:
• Familiarize your body to the increasing heat by gradually spending more time outdoors.

• Drink water frequently. Avoid alcohol, coffee, sodas, and tea as these can lead to dehydration.

• If possible, avoid spending prolonged time outside between 12pm and 4pm, which is the hottest time of day.

• When outdoors, wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.

“Remember, your body can only take so much fun in the sun, and pushing it to the limit can be very dangerous. Heat illness can develop rapidly and with very little warning. Use commonsense this summer – slow down, take breaks, and drink plenty of fluids,” offers Dr. Jarvis.

For more information visit, www.roundrock.sw.org

HRF HealthResearchFunding.org’s Heat Exhaustion: By the Numbers

0.1. Heat injuries occur when the body reaches temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, which may cause cellular damage after 30 minutes or so of elevated temperatures.
0.2. Heat stroke from exercise is one of the three leading causes of sudden death in sports activities.
0.3. Deaths from heat-related issues between 2005 and 2009 rose to higher rates than any others observed during any other five-year periods in the past 35 years.
0.4. Since 2010, there have been at least 20 deaths related to heat.
0.5. 100%. That’s the survival rate for heat exhaustion when rapid, proper treatment is given to someone suffering from the issue.
0.6. 31% of the deaths from heat exhaustion symptoms were attributed to exposure to excessive natural heat.
0.7. In 2006, which is the second hottest year that has ever been recorded, 3,100 US workers had a heat-related illness that caused them to miss work.
0.8. 8. 44. That’s the number of heat-related occupational deaths that were reported in the US in 2006.
0.9. According to the National Weather Service 10 year average for heat fatalities was 170 between 1998 and 2007.
0.10. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, people with high blood pressure, and people working or exercising in a hot environment.
0.11. The death rate in the U.S. for heat-related causes since 1979: 0.5 per 1 million.
0.12. On average, 38 kids die every year in vehicles because they were forgotten about and left in the heat. Since 1998, that’s an average of one child dying every nine days.
0.13. More than 70% of heat stroke deaths occur in children younger than age two. Three out of 10 of those incidents occur when a child enters a hot location and cannot escape on their own without the caregiver’s knowledge.
0.14. Since 1998, 619 children have died in vehicles from heat-related issues in the U.S.
0.15. A car can reach 110 degrees when temperatures are only in the 60s. Heat exhaustion can take place when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees.
0.16. There were five player deaths in America 1931-1959 from heat. There were 103 player deaths in America 1960-2000.
0.17. Heat exhaustion rates are the highest for athletes who play high school football.

For more information visit, www.HealthResearchFunding.org

Maridav/bigstock.com, A and N photography/bigstock.com

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