As you make plans to soak up the warm summer heat this year, be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Most people can’t wait until the temperatures rise above 23 degrees Celsius and the long days of summer begin.
But prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet rays and high temperatures can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, among other heat-related illnesses.
A heat-related illness occurs when the normal body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius rises faster than the natural cooling process can take over. When the internal body temperature begins to rise, heat causes an increase of blood flow and sweating, which is how the body begins to cool down.
Without this automatic response to inner temperatures rising, vital organs, including the brain, can sustain serious damage from heat-related illnesses. To avoid spending the summer in the hospital, take heed with our tips for a healthy summer.
Types of Heat-Related Illnesses
Sometime serious heat-related illnesses can be masked and may just seem like a minor setback. That’s why it is important to understand the various types of heat-related illnesses and their correlating symptoms.
- Heat Stroke: Warm/dry skin, high fever (over 104° F/40° C), rapid heart rate, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headache, dry swollen tongue, fatigue, confusion, agitation, lethargy, seizures, or a coma, which can lead to death.
- Heat Exhaustion: Cool/moist skin, heavy sweating, faintness, dizziness, fatigue, weak, rapid pulse, low blood pressure, muscle cramps, nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, or headaches.
- Heat Cramps: Heavy sweating, thirst, dry mouth, weakness, nausea, abdominal pain, painful cramps in legs or flushed, moist skin.
- Sunburn: Headache, fatigue, fever, nausea, blisters, warmness, redness, itchy, tenderness, inflammation, or
- Heat Rash: Red pimples or tiny blisters (neck, upper chest, groin, under the breasts, and in elbow creases), prickling sensation, itchiness, redness, swelling, or fever.
Who Is Most Likely to Have Heat-Related Illnesses?
There are certain individuals who are considered at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses. With all of the precautions followed, these groups can still suffer from signs and symptoms of mild to serious illnesses.
- Infants/young children
- Pregnant/breastfeeding mothers
- Individuals with as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disorders, and obesity
- Individuals with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, or anxiety
- People with mobility limitations
- People who live alone or who are socially isolated
- Outdoor workers
- Athletes engaging in intense physical activity or training in hot weather
- Individuals on certain medications
- People with limited access to cooling facilities
Preventive Measures for Heat-Related Illnesses
While having fun in the sun, it is easy to delay or forget to take even the basic preventive measures. By following these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you and your family can enjoy the sweet summer weather safely.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water
- Replenish lost salt and minerals with sports drinks/salt tablets
- Avoid excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol
- Avoid hot/heavy meals
- Pace yourself with indoor/outdoor activities
- Take frequent breaks when performing outside activities
- Wear lightweight/light-coloured clothing
- Limit sun exposure
- Apply sunscreen
- Stay in cool environments
- Stay updated on heat advisories in your area
- Consider indoor activities or less intense workouts during peak heat hours
- Use cool towels, misting sprays, or portable fans to lower body temperature
- Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses
Visit a Walk-in Clinic Near You for a Heat-Related Illnesses
If you’re looking for a family doctor in Brampton, stop by the family medical centre and “walk-in clinic” at Heart Lake Health Centre. Our specialists and family physicians specialize in family medicine, urology, physical medicine, dermatology, pediatrics, and podiatry.
We offer extensive medical services for residents in Brampton. Mississauga, and Caledon, as well as international travellers. Contact us today with any concerns or questions about heat-related illnesses or other medical conditions.