JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Temperatures are creeping higher and higher across Mississippi as summer approaches. While Southerners aren’t strangers to heat, it’s important to be familiar with how heat can effect your health.
Heat-related illnesses can affect anyone. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists common heat-related illnesses and how to spot them.
Heat stroke is the most serious and happens when the body can’t control it’s temperature. Symptoms include confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, dry skin or profuse sweating, seizures or very high body temperature.
Treat the person by calling 911 for emergency medical care, move the person to a cool area, remove their outer clothing, cool them with cold water or an ice bath, wet their skin, soak clothing in cool water, circulate the air and place cold, wet cloths on their head, neck, armpit and groin.
Heat exhaustion happens when the body loses too much water and salt from excessive sweating. This is most likely to affect the elderly, people with high blood pressure and those working in hot environments. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature and decreased urine output.
Take the person to a clinic or emergency for treatment. Call 911 if medical care is unavailable. Stay with them until help arrives. Remove them from the hot area and give them liquid to drink. Remove unnecessary clothing, including shoes and socks. Cool them with a cold compress or have them wash their head, face and neck with cold water. Encourage them to sip cool water frequently.
Rhabdo causes the rapid breakdown, rupture and death of muscle. When muscle tissue dies, electrolytes and large proteins are released into the bloodstream. This can cause irregular heart rhythms, seizures and damage to the kidneys. Symptoms include muscle cramps or pain, abnormally dark (tea or cola-colored) urine, weakness, exercise intolerance or no symptoms.
Seek immediate care at the nearest medical facility and ask to be checked for rhabdomyolysis while the person stops activity and drinks liquids.
Fainting or dizziness episodes can occur when standing too long or suddenly standing up after sitting or lying. Dehydration and lack of acclimatization can contribute to heat syncope. Symptoms include fainting for a short duration, dizziness and light-headedness.
Have the person sit or lie down in a cool place. Have them slowly drink water, clear juice or a sports drink.
Low salt levels from sweating can cause painful muscle cramps. Symptoms include muscle cramps, pain or spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs.
Have the person drink water or have a snack or drink that replaces carbohydrates and electrolytes every 15 to 20 minutes. Avoid salt tablets. Seek medical help if the person has heart problems, is on a low sodium diet or has cramps that don’t go away in an hour.
Skin irritation is caused by excessive sweating in hot, humid weather. Symptoms include red clusters of pimples or small blisters. They usually appear on the neck, upper chest, groin, under breasts and in elbow creases.
Treat heat rash by keeping the rash area dry. Apply powder to increase comfort. Don’t use ointments or creams. Try to work in cooler, less humid environments, if possible.
Learn more about these heat-related illnesses here.