Heat Exhaustion!

combat summer heat


When it is hot outside your body cools itself by sweating. Your body cools as the sweat evaporates from your skin.  But if you are overexposed to heat or are doing strenuous physical activity your body loses its ability to cool itself properly.  This is called heat exhaustion. This can be caused by loss of water and electrolytes through sweating as a result of hot, sunny, humid weather, and physical exertion in that weather.  Elderly and children are at greater risk due their body’s inability to regulate body temperature, and lack of cool air. Drugs, such as, ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines, can cause rapid rise in body temp.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include, nausea, dizziness, irritability, headache, thirst, weakness, high body temperature, excessive sweating, decreased urine output, confusion, vomiting, muscle cramps, which is related to low blood sodium and potassium.

Heat exhaustion can occur in the elderly because they are less likely to drink enough fluids or sense significant changes in temperature. Heat exhaustion in kids can occur as babies and young kids are very sensitive to extreme heat.  Keep cool and hydrated. Don’t leave them in the car, even with the window open.

Treatment- When the temp is over 91 you need to take precautions

  1. Go to a cool area
  2. Remove layers of clothes
  3. Fanning and wet towels
  4. Dizzy may be related to low BP, so lay down and put your feet up
  5. Drink water or sport drink, and sip slowly
  6. If you have continuous vomiting get medical attention immediately

Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which is a medical emergency.

Heat Stroke (Sun Stroke) occurs when there is a high body temp of 103 or higher. It is considered hyperthermia without fever.  Symptoms include hot, red, dry or moist skin, rapid and strong pulse, and loss of consciousness.  Call 911, move person to cool area, cool person down with cool cloths or bath, DO NOT GIVE FLUIDS.

Those at risk for heat stroke are those wearing dark, heavy, padded clothes, and over dressing, has a high percentage of body fat, dehydration, Fever, beta blockers (cardiac medication), antipsychotic medication, alcohol and caffeine.

The most important thing to remember is to not wait until you are thirsty to drink fluids.


Summer Series

Sunburn is radiation burn due to overexposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation mostly from the sun or sun tanning. Too much exposure can be dangerous, but a lesser amount of exposure would lead to a tan. Sunburns are considered a superficial burn. Extreme burns can result in hospitalizations. Sunburns can occur in less than 15 min. Some medications can create greater sensitivity to UV radiation, such as, antibiotics, birth control pills, and tranquilizers.
Suntan is a result of slight to moderate exposure that causes a release of melanin, a protective pigment that is the skin’s natural defense against overexposure. Suntans are viewed as exotic and desirable. Repeated extreme exposure over time can lead to damage to your DNA and skin tumors, dry wrinkled skin, dark spots, and freckles.
Those with the greatest risk for skin burns are those with fair skin, living or on vacation somewhere sunny or at a high altitude, work outdoors, and participate in outdoor recreation.
UV Index is the risk of getting sunburn at a specific location and time of day, such as:
1. Time of Day 10 AM-4 PM- sun’s rays are at their strongest
2. You can even get burn on cloudy days
3. Reflective surfaces, such as, snow, ice, water, and concrete
4. The position of the sun, which is greatest late spring and early
5. The higher the altitude the greater the risk of a sunburn.
6. Proximity to the equator- closer you are to the tropical regions of
the planet 50% greater chance of getting sunburn.
7. Incidence and severity of sunburns have increased worldwide because of damage to the ozone layer of the planet due to ozone depletion.
Appearance of sunburns include red skin that feels hot is caused by the increase of blood to the area to heal the burn. Also there is pain, fatigue, dizziness, swelling, itching, and peeling skin, rash, nausea, fever, and chills. Fluid filled blisters that can burst and become infected. After exposure, skin may turn red from 30 min to 2-6 hours. Worst of the pain is 6-48 hours after exposure. The burn continues to progress for 1 to 3 days. Skin peeling can last about 3-8 days.
Complications include skin cancers (Melanoma, basal-cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma), and sunburn to the corneas of your eyes.

Prevention is the Key: use hats/caps, clothes that cover arms and legs, and use wraparound sunglasses.
Moderate sun tanning without burning can prevent sunburn. A diet rich in vitamin C, and E can help reduce the amount o sunburn. Beta-carotene (Vitamin A) helps protect against sunburn. Protect your skin with sunscreen or sunblock. The higher the SPF the less the DNA damage is to the skin. Sunscreen helps prevent some forms of skin cancers. Apply 30 min before exposure and 30 min after exposure, and any time you get wet.
Treatment options include
1. Pain medication- ibuprofen, naproxen
2. Corticosteroids- for itching
3. Cool the skin- cool compresses, cool shower
4. Moisturizer- aloe vera, hydrocortisone cream
5. Don’t break blisters- it is a protective layer, and breaking it
will slow healing. If it breaks clean with soap and water and apply
antibacterial cream and cover with a wet dressing.
6. Drink plenty of water
7. Avoid further sunlight
8. Products that contain benzocaine can irritate the burn and cause
allergic reaction.