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By Dora Brogdon

I’m sure everyone looked forward to summer as a kid. When summer came around that meant school was out and it was time to hang out with friends or to get a job during that nice long break. While that break was full of either sunny or rainy days, the heat was and still is something not to be ignored. It can and will cause heat-related illness that can take a serious toll on the body if one isn’t careful.

A heat stroke is one of a few things heat can do to a person. It raises both the body’s temperature to 103 F or higher and heart rate, if one isn’t careful they could even lose consciousness. The person will also have: nausea, headache, dizziness, confusion, and either hot, red, dry, or damp skin. If you notice these symptoms or see someone with them call 911 immediately and move yourself or the person to a cooler place. Begin to lower your high temperature or the person’s high temperature with damp rags or a nice cool bath. If you or the person is able to drink then drink cool water to rehydrate your or their body. This illness is a medical emergency.

Heat exhaustion is another heat related illness that should be taken seriously. It can cause: heavy sweating, fast or weak pulse, dizziness, fainting, headache, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, and cold, pale, and clammy skin. If you or someone else has these symptoms move to a cool place and place wet cloths on yourself or them to cool down. Make sure to loosen clothing and sip some cool water. If you or the person start throwing up, if the symptoms get worse, or if they last longer then one hour, get medical help right away. From my own experience of having heat exhaustion, watch out for these symptoms and keep yourself hydrated at all times. Even if you aren’t thirsty that doesn’t mean you’re not dehydrated.

Heat cramps are not too bad, but they can get serious. Some symptoms of heat cramps are: muscle pain or spasms and heavy sweating during intense exercise. If you notice these in yourself or another person stop the physical activity and head over to a cool place. Make sure to drink water to keep the body hydrated from the intense sweating then wait for the cramps to go away before continuing. If the cramps last longer then one hour or you are on a low-sodium diet and also have heart problems then seek medical help.

Sunburn is something just about everyone has had at least once or multiple times like me. It can cause blisters and turns the skin color red and warm. The sunburn can also be rather painful depending on the severity of it. If you or someone you know gets a sunburn, stay out of the sun until that sunburn heals. Make sure to put some moisturizing lotion on the areas and put cool cloths on the burned areas. Do not try to break the blisters because they can make the sunburn worse. Having blisters means you or the person has a second-degree sunburn so it is important to leave the blisters alone so they can heal and also protect the skin.

Heat rashes are similar to a sunburn but they do not burn the skin. Instead it causes red clusters of small pimple like blisters on the skin. They usually show up on the chest, neck, groin, or in the elbow creases. If you or someone else has a heat rash stay in a cool but also dry place. Keep the rash dry the best you can and use powder similar to baby powder to sooth the rash.

While some individuals are able to protect themselves from the heat there are those that are at a greater risk for heat-related illnesses. Children younger than 4 years old and adults that are older than 65 have a much higher risk of having heat exhaustion. Children’s bodies at that young age are not able to regulate their body temperature and can heat up faster than a adults body. Medications or other illnesses can make it a bit harder for the older adults to regulate their own temperature.

Keep an eye on both when they are outside in the heat and check on the elderly. Heart conditions and medications can increase the risk faster along with drinking alcohol and weight. Chronic illnesses like diabetes and blood sugar can increase the risk of dehydration which also raises the risk of a heat-related illness. Make sure to watch those that suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease or those that had a previous stroke. They can interfere with the brain’s ability to send signals and alert the body with thirst signals so make sure they have and drink as much water to stay hydrated.

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