February 9, 2023

how to recognize symptoms and avoid illness

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(CNN) — Heat-related illnesses are top of mind today for many people around the world who are not used to dealing with extreme heat. When the body’s temperature rises faster than it can cool itself, it can damage the brain and other vital organs, and even lead to death.

Here are the key signs of heat stroke and other heat illnesses and how to respond. We’ve also included tips on how to prevent getting sick.

Symptoms of heat rash and how to treat it

Excessive sweating can create an irritating heat rash on the skin that often appears as reddish clusters of pimples or small blisters, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The rash is usually found on the upper chest and neck, under the chest and in the groin area, and in the creases of the elbows, according to the CDC.

The mildest form, miliaria crystallina, appears as tiny, clear, fluid-filled lumps that break easily. A rash called “prickly heat” occurs deeper in the skin and causes “small, itchy, inflamed blister-like bumps on the affected area,” according to the Mayo Clinic. They can also be filled with pus.

The less common form, miliaria profundus, attacks the deepest layer of the skin and causes firm, itchy pimples that look like goosebumps, the Mayo Clinic said.

If you have a heat rash, keep the area dry. Don’t use creams or ointments, as warm, moist skin can block pores and worsen the rash, the CDC says. Wear loose cotton clothing and move to a cooler, less humid environment. Use a fan to circulate the air and take frequent breaks.

What was the hottest day in history and where was it recorded? 1:06

Symptoms of heat cramps and how to treat them

As the heat continues to affect the body, muscle cramps or spasms may occur in the arms, legs and abdomen, the CDC said. To treat these symptoms, the CDC recommends that you rest and drink fluids such as water or a sports drink every 10 to 15 minutes. They also recommend that you have a snack, but avoid sodium tablets.

If you or a loved one has heart problems or is on a low-sodium diet, seek medical help immediately. Also seek medical help if the cramps do not go away within an hour.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion and how to treat them

Feeling dizzy or lightheaded or fainting after getting up suddenly from a sitting or prone position can be an early sign of heat exhaustion, the CDC says. If this happens to you, sit in a cool place and slowly drink cold water, juice, or a sports drink.

If you start to get a headache, nausea, and weakness, you could be progressing to heat exhaustion. Other signs are irritability, profuse sweating and thirst, higher body temperature, and decreased urination.

In that case, get out of the heat and seek medical help, making sure someone stays with you at all times until help arrives, the CDC advises. Take off unnecessary clothing, along with shoes and socks. Continue to take frequent sips of cold water. Try using cold packs, an ice bath, or using fans to cool down.

Heatstroke: More than 36 children die in cars each year in the US. 2:06

Symptoms of heat stroke and how to treat them

The most serious form of heat illness, heat stroke, is a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately. If treatment is delayed, heat stroke can be fatal.

Signs of heat stroke include confusion, slurred speech, seizures, and loss of consciousness. A person may sweat profusely, or their skin may be hot and dry. Your body temperature will be very high and may rise to “41 degrees Celsius or higher in 10 to 15 minutes,” the CDC said.

Quickly remove all unnecessary clothing. Immediately apply an ice bath, if possible. Soak remaining clothing in cold or ice water and place ice packs or cool, wet cloths on your head, neck, armpits and groin, the CDC advised.

Who is most at risk of heat stroke?

Children and the elderly are most at risk from heat, according to the CDC. Children often can’t tell adults when they’re thirsty, and the body’s ability to signal thirst to the brain declines as we age.

Being obese also increases risk, as does having heart disease, mental illness, or drinking alcohol. People who have poor circulation or who are already dehydrated, perhaps from prescription medications, are also at higher risk.

10 ways to prevent heat stroke

The good news is that there are ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones from getting sick from the heat. Here are 10 of the best tips that experts recommend.

1. Know the signs of dehydration: there are many signals your body sends to tell you that you need fluids, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

You may have a dry mouth or a dry cough. You may have a slight headache or feel fatigued. Constipation is a key clue, as is dark-colored urine: a well-hydrated body expels urine that is light and pale in color. Your feet may swell, or you may have a loss of appetite but still crave sugar.

2. Drink fluids even when you’re not thirsty: dehydration increases rapidly. Protect yourself by drinking cool fluids, like water, as often as possible. Carry a bottle of water with you throughout the day.

3. Use sunscreen: sunburned skin cannot regulate body temperature as easily.

4. Limit sweating: pay attention to humidity in addition to rising temperatures. Higher humidity levels cause the body to sweat and lose precious fluids.

5. Wear loose and light clothes: tight clothing traps heat in the body, as do darker colors. Try to wear very loose clothing that allows air to circulate, the CDC says.

6. Avoid the consumption of alcoholic beverages: alcohol dehydrates, so while it may seem like you’re cooling off, you’re actually leaching moisture from your body.

7. Say “yes” to fans: keep air moving in and out to help cool the body. What if you’re out? Take a bamboo folding fan with you and feel free to use it.

8. Take lots of breaks: Make sure you acclimatize to the hot temperatures before beginning any exercise or outdoor activity, and take regular breaks from the heat.

9. Eat hydrating foods: Why not trim your waistline and stay hydrated at the same time? Vegetables like cucumber, lettuce, celery, radishes, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, and baby carrots are low in calories and at least 90% water by weight. Add fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, grapefruit, strawberries, and starfruit to the list, too.

10. Avoid foods that dehydrate: too much protein can be dehydrating, according to studies. The same goes for salty snacks and excess sugar, which studies show cause thirst, obesity, and metabolic imbalances.



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