Heat Stroke, No Joke
It’s July and honestly, I forget about heat stroke every year but it’s a real danger here in Southern Utah.
This week alone St. George could get up to 110 degrees the National Weather Service is predicting. Which means more than just dealing with disgusting sweat and semi-permanent exhaustion. If untreated, it could mean death.
Most Southern Utahns love using the summer for hiking, lake days, and basically anything under the sun which is where the danger lies. Temperatures reaching triple digits in your BODY is not something you want. Especially, if you’re out trying to have a good time or are way out on a hike.
So, what do you need to look out for?
The Center for Disease Control actually deals with heatstroke under “heat-related illness” of which there is more than just heat stroke (I'll get to that in a bit). Some heat stroke symptoms include confusion and slurred speech, losing consciousness, skin that’s hot and dry while sweating, seizures, and high body temperature the CDC website said.
None of these make for a pleasant experience but there are ways to avoid getting heatstroke and still be able to play in the sun. Here is what the CDC recommends:
- Wear clothing with the heat in mind. “Choose lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.”
- Plan your outdoor activities around early morning or evening if possible. When outside, stay in the shade and rest as much as possible.
- Don’t go out hiking or jogging if you aren’t used to the heat. Pace yourself and if you do start to feel your heart rate skyrocket and have shortness of breath, stop whatever you’re doing. You could also start to experience a headache, dizziness, and being lightheaded. You should find a shady spot and chill immediately.
- Wear sunscreen because it can help keep your body cool and protected from sunburn. Add a hat and sunglasses for added protection and cooling.
- Just keep drinking water (within reason). Don’t wait until you feel thirsty and always keep that water close by. You’ll also want to avoid alcohol or sugary drinks since those are dehydrating.
These tips are also good to help prevent heat exhaustion which is another heat-related disease. The CDC says this typically impacts the elderly, those with high blood pressure and anyone working in a warm/hot environment could also be susceptible.
You might experience:
- Heavy sweating
- Elevated body temperature
- Decreased urine output
Heatstroke and heat exhaustion can happen to anyone in the right circumstances but there are other health conditions to be aware of.
“Rhabdomyolysis (Rahbdo) is a medical condition associated with heat stress and prolonged physical exertion. Rhabdo causes the rapid breakdown, rupture, and death of muscle. When muscle tissue dies, electrolytes and large proteins are released into the bloodstream. This can cause irregular heart rhythms, seizures, and damage to the kidneys.”—CDC
There are five symptoms to watch out for:
- Muscle cramps and pain
- This one is gross, but dark-colored urine
- Feeling weak
- Not handling exercise well
- You could also be asymptomatic
That feeling when you get up too quickly after sitting for a long while? Well, Heat Syncope can sometimes be like that (it’s a symptom). You will have fainting spells or dizziness, and this can also be from standing too long.
Not being acclimated to the heat and dehydration can factor in.
This only affects those who are constantly sweating for work. Heat cramps are the result have having low salt levels. Without salt, your muscles begin to painfully cramp which could also be a sign of heat exhaustion.
This isn’t sunburn, it’s a rash caused by sweating way too much. It can look like acne or small blisters when it appears. It is also found in all the uncomfortable places, like armpits, underneath the chest, groin areas, and elbow creases.
For a full list of first aid responses, visit the CDC link above and our article here.
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