Too Hot for Your Health

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August 25, 2015 by Kim Ochab, CRNP

We love the Gulf Coast, but we know it gets HOT.  Too much heat is not safe for anyone. It is even riskier if you are older or if you have health problems. Too much heat causes sweating. When the sweat dries from your skin, the surface of your body cools, and your temperature goes down.  But being hot for too long can cause serious problems such as:

• Heat syncope is a sudden dizziness in hot weather. If you take certain heart medications or are unused to hot weather, you are more likely to feel faint.
• Heat cramps are painful tightening of muscles in the stomach, arms, or legs. Cramps can result from hard work or exercise. These cramps mean you are too hot. Find a way to cool your body down.
• Heat edema is a swelling in your ankles/feet when hot. Putting your legs up should help. If not, check with your doctor.
• Heat exhaustion is a warning that your body can no longer keep cool. You might feel thirsty, dizzy, weak, uncoordinated, and nauseated. If you don’t feel better soon, get medical care.
• Heat stroke can be life threatening! You need to get medical help right away. Older people living in homes or apartments without air conditioning or fans are at most risk. So are people who become dehydrated or those with chronic diseases or alcoholism.

To avoid dangerous heat stroke:
• Get out of the sun and into a cool place — air-conditioning is best.
• Drink fluids, but avoid alcohol and caffeine.
• Shower, bathe, or at least sponge off with cool water.
• Visit your doctor or an emergency room if you don’t cool down quickly.
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