As Temps Soar, So Do Visits To The ER

Northwestern Medicine
Emergency Medicine and Trauma May 25, 2012

Soaring TemperaturesMemorial Day is finally here, marking the unofficial launch of summer! This weekend, temperatures are expected to reach the mid-90s by Sunday. The rising heat also marks the start of a very busy time for those of us in work in emergency departments. Every summer, I can count on treating many cases of heat-related illnesses. While outdoor summer activities are great ways to spend time with family and friends, everyone must practice heat and sun safety to avoid risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat-related illnesses occur when the body’s temperature rises because of dehydration and overexertion. Symptoms can range from aching pains to nausea, but most of the patients I see experience extreme thirst, dizziness, and headaches. If you start to experience these symptoms, the first step is to restore the body’s fluids with water or sports drinks filled with electrolytes. If the symptoms continue and your heart rate rapidly increases, you could be experiencing heat stroke, the most severe of all heat-related illnesses. When heat stroke occurs, often a person’s mental state will change, and they are unaware danger they are in. If heat stroke is suspected, seek medical attention immediately. Heat stroke is a medical emergency which can lead to disability or even death if not treated.

The best way avoid heat-related illnesses is to remain adequately hydrated. Even with the popularity of water bottles and tumbler to-go cups, many people fail to drink enough water while they are outside in the summer heat. You can also keep cool by wearing loose fitted clothing and staying in the shade. If you cannot avoid the sun’s rays, carry a water bottle and drink from it often. You should also refrain from caffeinated beverages, such as soda, and alcohol which can cause dehydration.

For more tips and information read the full press release.

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