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Front Page » July 11, 2002 » Local News » Ward off heat-related disorders as temperature climbs
Published 4,488 days ago

Ward off heat-related disorders as temperature climbs


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By KAREN BASSO
Staff reporter


Ashley Greenwood takes the time to quench her thirst during a hot summer day. To avoid suffering from heat related illness, it is important to drink plenty of liquids. Because the body fights heat through perspiration, it is important to provide it with plenty of liquid to ensure that dehydration does not occur.

The mercury continues to rise and there are no signs of a significant decrease in temperature in the near future.

In order to beat the heat and ensure that related illnesses do not attack, Carbon County residents should pay attention to the minor details to eliminate the risk of suffering from the hot weather.

Heat disorders can attack anyone, however the risk of suffering from a heat related illness only increases with age. The disorders are caused by prolonged exposure to hot temperatures, restricted fluid intake, or failure to regulate temperatures within the body.

The bodies main point of attack occurs in the form of perspiration. The body system recognizes when the human is hot, therefore perspiration is produced which evaporates from the skin, cooling the patient.

But many times, the system does not work properly due to various medical reasons or simply fails because the body has lost too many fluids, thus causing dehydration, according to health experts.

With high temperatures, it is important to drink plenty of fluids. The general rule of thumb is to drink eight or more glasses of water a day to prevent dehydration. The number should be doubled during high temperature seasons to ensure that heat disorders do not strike.

There are several common heat related disorders. The least severe of these disorders are heat cramps. Although cramps can be painful, they are not life threatening.

Individuals who suffer from heat cramps should use caution however. If a person is exposed to excessive heat and heat cramps attack, the situation could be the warning sign of more serious heat related illnesses to come.

Heat cramps usually feel like a severe muscle pull and are often forceful and painful. The cramps cause the muscle tissue to become less flexible and restrains movement.

The disorder most often occurs in the legs and abdomen and are usually caused due to a lack of fluids, high temperatures and a lack of physical conditioning.

Cramps may be treated with water, cool air and rest.

If heat cramps are left unattended, often times a more severe heat disorder can occur such as heat exhaustion.

Excessive heat and dehydration can cause the body to overreact, thus raising the body temperature to over 102 degrees.

Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, extreme fatigue, nausea, paleness, light-headedness, fainting, cool and clammy skin.

Heat exhaustion is a serious illness and should be monitored carefully.

Shady environments, liquids and cool rags placed on various areas of the body are used to treat this condition. It is also important to replace fluids in the body.

If the body temperature remains elevated after treatment, a physician or hospital should be contacted immediately.

Even more serious than heat exhaustion is heat stroke. The disorder is life-threatening and should be treated immediately by a physician.

The first sign to look for in a suspected victim of heat stroke is red, flushed skin. Other signs of heat stroke include a body temperature of 106 degrees, seizures, headache, rapid pulse, bizarre behavior and unconsciousness.

It is possible to avoid suffering from heat related disorders. The best way to fight the disorders is to ensure that proper hydration efforts are made.

Drink plenty of water before, during and after exposure to high heat.

Sports drinks work well in fighting heat illness; however, water works just as well.

Proper ventilation should be provided in any high temperature situation. If a shaded, wide open space is available, take the opportunity to relax for a moment in this area. By doing so, the body will be allowed to rid itself of heat through sweating, while avoiding the direct effects of the hot summer sun.

If indoors, make sure that a window is always open, a fan is in use, or an air conditioning system is in use during excessively hot temperatures.

The clothing worn by people can also play a large role in how the body responds to extremely hot conditions.

Light colored, loose fitting clothing will allow the body to breath and cool naturally. Tight clothing will restrict the process and dark material absorbs the sun's rays and heat.

Hats are recommended in providing relief from the sun. If the heat begins to be uncomfortable, the hat should be removed in order for the head to cool off, rather than trapping the heat in the body through the head piece.

Finally, limit the amount of activity which takes place during hot days if at all possible. By doing so, the chance of overdoing it will be eliminated.

If the feeling of dizziness or light-headedness occurs, it is best for the affected individual to take a time out and rest in a shaded area.

As the temperatures continue to rise, Carbon County residents should take steps to avoid falling victim to heat disorders.


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