Recognizing Heat Illness
With summer officially here, it is time to enjoy the great outdoors. While the sun beats down, many people will remember sunscreen to stop sun burns, but will they remember the most dangerous effects from the sun? Heat Illness is a medical condition that comes from your body’s inability to cope when it is overheated. Many factors like temperature, humidity, direct sun exposure, and physical activity can contribute to the effects of Heat Illness. This blog will be exploring the four types of Heat Illness, how to recognize the signs, and how to prevent serious injury.
The most common form of Heat Illness is a Heat Rash. This condition is caused by extensive sweating in areas like your neck, armpits, elbows, or knees creating a red cluster of pimples or blisters. While a Heat Rash may be uncomfortable, it is usually mild and can be relieved by keeping the area dry and applying powder for comfort.
Muscle pains caused by the loss of body salt through sweat are called Heat Cramps. Heat cramps are uncomfortable and usually affect the stomach, arms, or legs. To relieve the effects of Heat Cramps, replenish your body’s fluid loss with water and carbohydrate/electrolyte sports drinks every 15 to 20 minutes.
As your body heats up, it is important to make sure it can cool itself back down. If your body temperature begins to climb over 100°F, you may start to feel signs of Heat Exhaustion. Headache, dizziness, confusion, and body weakness are all signs of Heat Exhaustion. If you see these signs, get the person out of the area to cool down and replenish their liquids. Make sure the symptoms do not worsen and contact emergency personnel if they do.
The most serious and potentially fatal Heat Illness is Heat Stroke. Heat Stroke occurs when your body can no longer cool itself and your body temperature reaches over 104°F. Confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, and loss of sweat are the common signs of your body shutting down. If someone begins showing signs of Heat Stroke, get medical help immediately. If you can, move the person to a shaded area, remove any heavy clothing, and wet their body down to lower their body temperature.
Now that you know the signs and symptoms of Heat Illness, here are some things you can do to keep you and others safe from heat-related health problems:
Summer is a time to enjoy the outdoors but making sure your body is prepared for the heat is an important part of your to-do list. Know your limits, make sure you are acclimated, and stay hydrated as you spend the day in the sun. To keep the conversation going, download the Heat Stress Toolbox Talk (TBT) or comment below.