Heat disorder risks rise with temperature
With only three weeks left before Carbon County children return to the classroom, local families are participating in as many outdoor activities as possible.
Several community events are scheduled throughout the upcoming week and residents will venture outdoors to attend the activities in the hot summer sun. But people should remember the potential danger of suffering from a heat-related illness.
According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, heat disorders are a group of physically related illnesses caused by prolonged exposure to hot temperatures, restricted fluid intake or failure of the body's temperature regulation mechanisms. The disorders include cramps, exhaustion and heat stroke.
It is extremely important for Carbon County residents to be aware of the signs of the heat-related disorders and take all steps possible to avoid becoming victim of the record high temperatures.
Heat disorders are harmful to people of all ages. However, the severity of the negative effects is likely to increase with age.
In hot weather, a healthy person will lose enough water to cool the body while creating the lowest level of chemical imbalance.
Regardless of weather conditions, the human body maintains a steady temperature of approximately 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hot weather or vigorous physical activity forces the body to perspire. As perspiration evaporates from the skin, the body is cooled.
If the body loses too much salt and fluids, the symptoms of dehydration can occur.
According to the medical encyclopedia, the three types of heat-related illnesses can be avoided as well as treated if residents are aware of the disorders and the symptoms.
Cramps are the least severe of the heat-related illnesses.
The disorder is often the first sign that the body is having difficulty with high temperatures.
Individuals exposed to excessive heat should think of heat cramps as a warning sign to a potential heat related emergency.
The disorder is caused by excessive loss of salts due to perspiration and causes painful muscle spasms.
Heat cramps occur primarily in the legs and abdomen than in other areas of the body.
Individuals at high risk from extreme heat include the elderly, young children, patients who suffer from health problems and people who are unable to naturally and properly cool bodies.
In the event Carbon County residents suspect that they are suffering from heat cramps, they should rest in a cool environment while consuming a sports drink or cool water with a teaspoon of salt per quart added.
Heat exhaustion represents a more serious physical condition than cramps and can result from prolonged exposure to hot temperatures, restricted fluid intake or the failure of temperature regulation.
The individuals at high risk of suffering from heat exhaustion include athletes, fire fighters, construction workers and all persons who wear heavy clothing in hot humid weather.
The medical encyclopedia indicates that heat exhaustion is caused by an individual's exposure to high temperatures and humidity for extended periods of time. Combined, the hot temperatures and humidity result in excessive loss of fluids and salt the body needs through heavy perspiration.
When suffering from heat exhaustion, the victim's skin may appear cool, moist and pale. People with heat exhaustion may complain of headache and nausea with a felling of overall weakness and exhaustion.
Dizziness, faintness and mental confusion are often present as well as a rapid and weak pulse rate
In addition, breathing may become fast and shallow in people who have heat exhaustion.
If an individual appears to be suffering from heat exhaustion, it is extremely important that the person stops all physical activity and moves immediately to a cool place out of the summer sun's rays.
The medical encyclopedia suggests that heat exhaustion victims lie down with their feet slightly elevated.
Clothing should be removed or loosened and a cold drink should be consumed by heat exhaustion victims.
Heat stroke is defined by the medical guide as a disorder caused by overexposure to extreme temperatures. The victim's body temperature reaches a dangerous level as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other symptoms of the disorder include mental confusion with possible combativeness as well as bizarre behavior, staggering and faintness.
When people are suffering from heat stroke, their pulse will become strong and rapid.
The heat stroke victim's skin will also take on a dry and flushed appearance.
Medical experts indicate that heat stroke victims display very little perspiration.
The individual can also lose consciousness quickly or have convulsions.
Heat stroke is a result of exhaustion and occurs when the body can no longer maintain a normal temperature. Heat stroke is life threatening; therefore, medical attention is required immediately.
Simply moving the individual afflicted with heat stroke to a cooler place is not enough to reverse the internal overheating that occurs with heat stroke advise medial experts
Rather, emergency medical assistance should be called immediately.
It is important that, while waiting for medical assistance to arrive, the person suffering from heat stroke should be moved to a cool place and clothing should be loosened or removed.
If possible,an individual suffering from heat stroke should be wrapped in wet towels or clothing. Ice packs should also be placed on the areas of the body with the greatest blood supply, including the neck and under the arms and knees.
Because heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke have a cascade effect on each other, the medical encyclopedia describes the prevention of these disorders as being similar and include the following:
Avoid strenuous exercise and activities when it is very hot.
Individuals exposed to extreme heat conditions should drink plenty of fluids.
Wear light and loose fitting clothing in hot weather regardless of activity.
Consume water often and don't wait until thirst develops.
If perspiration is excessive, fluid intake should be increased.
Eat lightly salted foods to replace salts lost through perspiration.
Ventilation should be adequate in any closed space.
By following several simple guidelines to prevent a heat disorder from striking, Carbon County residents may participate in summer activities with minimal worry. It is important to become aware of the symptoms and warning signs in order to appropriately treat heat disorders in a timely manner.