As temperatures rise, so do the risks for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Both these conditions cause symptoms that signal it’s time to rest, cool down, and possibly seek medical attention. With heat exhaustion, your body can’t cool itself properly, which may lead to a heat stroke, a life-threatening emergency.
Eugene Izsak, MD, medical director Toledo Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Emergency Center, explains, “with heat exhaustion your body still maintains a normal temperature, but with heat stroke your body can’t get rid of the excess heat and then your temperature starts going up and that’s a medical emergency.”
According to Dr. Izsak, mental confusion, chest pain, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain and vomiting are all symptoms that your body is overheating.
Signs of heat-related illness:
- Mental confusion
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain
“Get inside, get cool, drink plenty of fluids,” he advises. “If it doesn’t go away, you might want to call your doctor or go to the emergency department.”
Kathleen Johnson, CNP, ProMedica Urgent Care, adds that anyone, regardless of fitness level, can suffer from heat exhaustion and stroke. Aside from staying out of the heat, staying hydrated is one of the best ways to prevent the heat from affecting your health.
She offers this tip to check to see if your body needs fluids: “Pinch a little bit of your skin and it should bounce right back. If it doesn’t bounce right back that could mean that you’re dehydrated.”
“If you get to a point where you’re sweating profusely and then all of a sudden you stop sweating… it’s time to go to the emergency room”
If your dehydration persists, you may stop sweating. “If you get to a point where you’re sweating profusely and then all of a sudden you stop sweating, then you know you’re really in danger and it’s time to go to the emergency room, explains Johnson.
Of course, prevention is key. If you’ll be in the heat, Dr. Izsak suggests taking frequent breaks and drinking plenty of fluids, as well as monitoring and modifying your exercise. And consider having a buddy. “It’s always a good idea to be in pairs so someone is watching you. If you’re going to be exercising, monitor your exercise and moderate your exercise”