Beat the Heat: Heatstroke and how to avoid it

Summer months are fun, but they take a toll on your body as the hot weather makes it hard to stay hydrated and regulate internal temperatures. There are numerous heat-related illnesses to look out for, including heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Heatstroke is a serious medical emergency that results from the body being unable to cool itself. Heat exhaustion, a precursor to heatstroke, is a sign that your body needs to recover from the heat to avoid further incapacitation.

Some key signs of heat exhaustion are general physical weakness, excessive sweating, faint pulse, nausea or vomiting and pale or clammy skin. These symptoms indicate that the body is working hard to cool itself naturally through sweat, however it is having a hard time combatting the heat. If proper steps are not taken to recuperate at this stage, heatstroke is likely to follow.

To prevent the escalation of heat exhaustion to heatstroke, it is important to remove yourself from the heat and seek shade and air conditioning if possible. Hydration and physical rest allow your body to recover and return to internal equilibrium. However, further heat exposure will almost certainly lead to heatstroke.

Heatstroke is characterized by an abnormally high body temperature (ranging from 103-105° F), racing pulse, loss of consciousness, skin that is red and hot to the touch and a lack of sweat. If you experience these symptoms you should seek emergency treatment immediately.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that you exercise caution in temperatures higher than 91° F, and consider factors like humidity, air circulation, physical exertion, thickness and breathability of clothing and direct sun exposure, all of which may contribute to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Check back soon for more tips from Georgia SurgiCare on taking care of your body despite the heat.