Beating the heat Heat exhaustion and heat stroke an issue in scorching temperatures, staying hydrated is key to staying healthy
With recent high temperatures, and summer not quite finished, the risk for heat injuries is prevalent. Those include heat exhaustion and heat strokes, both caused by a lack of hydration and over-exposure to sweltering temperatures.
Heat exhaustion is the precursor to heat stroke, said Amy Schmitt, Providence Newberg Medical Center director. It can include symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, muscle cramps and headaches, but doesnt make people confused. Once they cross that point of not simply having a headache, not just sick to their stomach, but now becoming confused, having difficulty walking or passing out are all signs of a heat stroke.
Especially when unable to cool down, Schmitt said heat exhaustion can quickly become heat stroke if left untreated.
If the heat injury continues, then people start becoming confused, often hallucinate, the heart rate and respiratory rate both tend to go up, she said. They may pass out and they can even have a seizure.
To prevent heat injuries, Schmitt said there are a few steps people can take when at risk.
The biggest one is staying hydrated because our body cools itself by sweating, she said. If you start getting dehydrated, sweat production goes down and the body isnt able to cool down.
Sometimes spraying down with water and then being in front of a fan can help, Schmitt said, because its the act of water evaporating from the skin that cools the body. Consuming liquids is also imperative, ideally some with electrolytes, she said.
Fortunately, she said PNMC hasnt seen many cases recently of heat-related issues. But those who do were unable to cool themselves down for one reason or another.
We had a few cases and it was largely in a context to where people couldnt get themselves cooled off with a physical reason, Schmitt said. Given the large senior community in the area, she said people with medically fragile or have mobility constraints are highest risk.
Even with temperatures returning to normal, people can still be at risk for heat injuries.
Especially if people are exerting themselves or trying to exercise in the heat, she said. Its best to exercise earlier in the morning or exercise in an air conditioned area. For people outside in the heat use spray bottles to keep skin damp and keep evaporative cooling. Really when its scorching outside anyone exercising is going to be put at risk for heat exhaustion.
Schmitt said the best way to stay out of the hospital is to take frequent breaks in the shade, cool off with a fan or in cooled areas and stay hydrated.