Hot Weather Can Be Deadly
MILWAUKEE (July 28, 2006) — If you’re sick of hot weather, you’re not alone. But don’t let hot weather make you sick.
It’s a very real threat, according to Charles Cady, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin emergency physician. Heat-related illness symptoms can range from uncomfortable to deadly.
He explained that the first symptom or first stage is muscle cramps, usually in the abdomen or legs. They’re painful, but generally can be relieved by stopping activity and drinking cool water or a sports drink. “It helps to gently stretch the muscle, hold it for 20 seconds and then lightly massage it.”
The next stage, often referred to as heat exhaustion, is more serious. Symptoms include cool, moist pale skin, headache, dizziness or weakness and nausea. Dr. Cady said, “You should get the person to a cooler place and let them rest in a comfortable position, giving them a half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes.” He noted that caffeine and alcohol can aggravate the condition. You can apply cool, wet cloths such as towels or sheets.
“If the person refuses to drink, vomits or passes out, call 911,” recommends Dr. Cady. These are symptoms of late stage heat-related illness or heat stroke.
Other signs of life-threatening heat stroke or sun stroke are a high body temperature, rapid weak pulse and rapid shallow breathing. “Watch for signals of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear,” Dr. Cady said, “while you’re waiting for the ambulance to arrive.”
He added that the best thing to do is avoid over-exposure to the heat, including dressing comfortably, drinking plenty of water and staying indoors when possible. “If you feel yourself becoming overheated, stop activity and find a cool place to rest.”