Heat-related illnesses affect more people than you might realize, especially since the symptoms can vary widely in intensity and duration. As we head into summer, it’s important to know the signs of heat-related illnesses, so you can stay as healthy and safe as possible. The good thing is that all of these conditions are preventable!
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are several different types of heat illnesses, including:
- Heat rash
- Heat cramps
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat stroke
You don’t need to be out in the blazing heat for hours in the middle of the day to experience heat-related illness. This is especially true for people who are immunocompromised, have heart or blood pressure conditions, or have conditions like postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). If you already know that you are susceptible to heat-related symptoms, it’s critical to stay hydrated and stay cool. But even if you consider yourself healthy, you can be affected by heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other threats.
Pay attention to these generalized early warning signs of potential heat-related illness:
- Excessive thirst
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Tiredness or lethargy
- Muscle weakness
- Fast pulse
- Hot, red, or blistering skin
Any and all of these signs could point to a growing threat of heat exhaustion or possible heat stroke. Even if you still feel relatively okay, these symptoms can worsen quickly, so early intervention is key.
What to do if you experience symptoms of heat-related illness:
- Move out of the sun and into cool shade, preferably indoors
- Sip on cool water or an electrolyte drink
- Loosen your clothes
- Place cool towels or cloths on your body
While many heat-related symptoms are mild and resolve within an hour or two, it’s important that you seek medical attention if you notice any of the following:
- Your symptoms get worse even after following the steps above
- Muscle cramps that last longer than an hour
- Body temperature of 103 degrees F or higher
- Loss of consciousness/passing out
Note: Heat stroke is considered to be a medical emergency! If you or someone you love has a high body temperature, dry, hot skin (not sweating), delirium or confusion, and/or a rapid heart rate, call 911 right away. Follow the steps suggested above, except do NOT give fluids.
Your local Oakbrook urgent care center can help you understand and prevent heat-related illness, and offer fast treatment when needed. Reach out to us at DuPage Immediate Care today.