Monday, July 02, 2012
ROCHESTER, Minn. — People across the country are experiencing sweltering weather with temperatures and the heat index reaching well into the 100-degree range. While many will take refuge in air-conditioned homes or at a local lake or pool, it's important to remember that the heat can be much more than bothersome. It can put your health at risk and even prove life threatening.
Heatstroke is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures or by doing physical activity in hot weather. High humidity, certain health problems and some medications such as heart drugs or psychiatric medications increase your risk of heatstroke. So does being a young child or older adult.
In a period of hours, untreated heatstroke can damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. These injuries get worse the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death, says David Claypool, M.D., an emergency medicine physician who treats heatstroke at Mayo Clinic.
Heatstroke symptoms include: high body temperature (a body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke); nausea and vomiting; flushed skin; rapid breathing; racing heart rate; headache; confusion; and muscle cramps or weakness.
"If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number," Dr. Claypool says. "Also, be sure to take immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment."
Anyone can develop heatstroke, but several factors place you at increased risk:
The good news is heatstroke is predictable and preventable. Dr. Claypool says you should take these steps to prevent heatstroke during hot weather: wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing; wear light-colored clothing if you're in the sun; drink plenty of fluids; never leave children or anyone else in a parked car; and take it easy during the hottest parts of the day.
To interview Dr. Claypool about heatstroke, contact Nick Hanson at 507-284-5005 or email email@example.com.
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