How to detect and treat heat-related illnesses

Don't let the heat make you sick.

Anyone can suffer from a heat emergency and if the warning signs are ignored, it can quickly become serious or even fatal.

45 year old construction worker John Green began feeling cramps in his feet, his legs, his arms and his hands. He said he had never felt anything like it, even after 25 years in the business.

"Went sat down, drank some fluids, and then I went back to work and it started all over again. In fact, it got worse," said Green.

John had the beginning of a heat emergency and he didn't even know it.

"With severe heat exposure someone can become dehydrated and our body's mechanism to control heat eventually can be overcome," said Dr. Michael Goodyear.

Dr. Goodyear says early signs of heat illness can start with cramps. After that, a person experiences profuse sweating, fatigue, and thirst. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can happen next. Those symptoms include headaches, lightheadedness, weakness, nausea, and cool moist skin.

"If one doesn't seek shelter or get to a cool area or stop their physical exertion they can progress to what's called heat stroke," said Dr. Goodyear.

Heat stroke is the most dangerous heat emergency. Symptoms include fever above 104, irrational behavior, extreme confusion, dry hot and red skin, and even seizures

"What we do is we mist people down with some spray, have some fans on them cooling them down as opposed to putting ice. Ice can cause you to shiver. So even though your body temperature is hot you get this extreme cold on you and your body doesn't really know how to react to that so water on top of someone is better than dumping a gallon of ice on them," said Dr. Goodyear.

He says you can try this at home, unless someone is confused or has underlying medical problems.

Green says he was in excruciating pain and began feeling better once he began receiving fluids. Doctors say he'll make a full recovery.

"Pain's subsiding and I'm able to move my toes and my legs without pain," said Green.

Heat illnesses are preventable by taking precautions in hot weather.
Children, the elderly and obese people have a higher risk of developing heat illnesses.
Taking certain medications or drinking alcohol can also increase risk.
 


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