Living with this heat

By the time that you read this, we will have lived through a weekend where the temperatures soared above 100. When you are going to be outside in these temperatures, there needs to be some preparation. I have shared with you in the past that hydration is something that needs to be done prior to going out into the heat. Attempting to hydrate after you have been outside is like trying to play catch up. Your body perspires in order to keep your body cool, and the rate by which you lose fluid is much higher than the rate by which you take it in. One measure of your level of hydration is the ability to urinate and the color of your urine. The fact that you are not going to the bathroom indicates that your body is using every bit of the fluid just to maintain. If the color of your urine is a dark yellow or even orange, this is an indication of dehydration as well.

High heat and humidity are potentially dangerous to everyone, but the ones that are most susceptible to heat-related illness are the very old and very young. There are three heat-related injuries or illnesses that you may experience – heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. I will list signs and symptoms of each as they progressively or concurrently happen with the next.

Heat Cramps

  • Severe muscle cramps that occur due to a lack of water and electrolytes to the muscles. These cramps are a precursor to greater heat-related problems, if not addressed.

Heat Exhaustion

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Cramps

Heat Stroke

  • Can be fatal if not addressed immediately
  • Body no longer sweats
  • Core temperature begins to rise
  • Rapid cooling is necessary
  • A true medical emergency

Once the heat-related sequence of events begins, immediate action must be taken. The person must be moved out of the hot environment to a cooler environment. Large quantities of fluid may be necessary to recover. I have seen numerous situations where intravenous fluids were the only means to hydrate the body enough, but if the person is able to drink water and keep it down, then this is the easiest. It will take hours and sometimes days to recover, once the heat has gotten to someone. I leave you with this; Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.


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