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Learn to avoid heat-related illnesses

August 15, 2010
Morning Journal News

As the mercury climbs yet again, we need to be watchful for signs of heat-related problems in our most vulnerable populations - young children, the elderly and the obese. Others at risk include those who are exercising, doing heavy work or otherwise exerting themselves in the heat.

Signs of dehydration can include thirst, dry skin, fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, dry mouth and mucous membranes and increased heart rate and breathing. When caught early, very mild cases of dehydration may be treated at home with a physician's guidance by drinking fluids such as sports drinks. In more serious cases, hospitalization and intravenous rehydration may be necessary. If you suspect dehydration, immediately consult a physician or emergency room.

High school and college football players practicing in the high temperatures and humidity that we are experiencing must be especially careful to stay hydrated and try to avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day, if possible.

Signs of heatstroke include hot and dry skin, rapid heartbeat, rapid and shallow breathing, changes in blood pressure, no sweating despite heat, irritability, confusion or unconsciousness, dizziness or lightheadedness, headache, nausea or fainting.

In a case of heatstroke, move the person out of the sun into a cool, shaded space, cover them with damp sheets or spray them with cool water, have them drink cool water if they are able and call 911.

To avoid heat-related illnesses, drink plenty of fluids, staying away from caffeinated or alcoholic beverages; schedule physical activities for the coolest times of the day; wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothing in light colors; wear sunglasses and hats; and take frequent breaks.

And, don't forget our four-legged friends. Make sure your animals have adequate shade and plenty of cool water to drink during these dog days of summer.



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