CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE
Warm and sunny summer days are perfect for barbequing, hanging out by the pool or a day at the beach. And with this being one of the hottest summers on record for Connecticut, people are bound to take advantage of the summer sun. While you enjoy the great outdoors with your friends and family, it is important to keep yourself hydrated and cool, and be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat exertion, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
How does heat stroke occur?
When it’s hot outside and your body begins to heat up, it produces sweat. It’s the evaporation of the sweat from your body that helps keep your body temperature under control. And when you sweat, you lose body fluids, which can cause dehydration if you’re not replenishing those fluids. During hot and humid summer months, we can dehydrate even faster. Why? Because when humidity rises, sweat does not evaporate. This causes your body to think something is wrong and it produces more sweat, leading to faster dehydration. This dehydration can lead to heat exertion, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Who is affected by heat stroke?
Anyone can suffer from heat stroke, so everyone should be careful when exposed to hot and humid conditions. Small children, the elderly and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to heat stroke so they should be careful to take extra precautions to prevent it.
What are the signs and symptoms of heat stroke?
If you are outside on a hot day, especially when humidity is high, any of the following could be signs that you are becoming dehydrated and may be suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke:
How do I avoid heat stroke?
What do I do if I experience any of the above symptoms?
If you’re experiencing minor symptoms, you should:
If you have more severe symptoms, lose control of your bodily functions or are experiencing confusion, you should call 9-1-1 or get to an emergency room immediately.
How do I know if I have heat stroke and need to seek medical attention or if it’s heat exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion is less severe than heat stroke. Some common signs of heat exhaustion include: excess sweating, some nausea, muscle cramps and weakness. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should follow the steps above as heat exhaustion can be reversed by taking these measures. If you are experiencing dry, hot skin, confusion, light headedness, passing out, have an inability to walk or are vomiting you should call 9-1-1 or visit the emergency room. Likewise, if your heat exhaustion symptoms do not get better after hydrating, resting and cooling down, you should seek medical attention.
Norwalk Hospital wishes you and yours a safe and fun-filled summer!
Want to learn more? Listen to Dr. Michael Carius and he speaks with Chaz & AJ about signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion. Listen now!
You can also read more about summer safety, including sunscreen use and beach safety, in our latest issue of Your Health Matters.