Beware dangers of heat stroke, heat exhaustion

Symptoms of heat related illnesses and how to prevent them

Health dangers from heat

ABILENE, Texas - The rising summer temperatures also raise the risk of heat related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These can happen to people working, playing, or just outside.

"The biggest difference between the two," said emergency room physician Joseph Jenkins, "heat exhaustion is not comfortable, it's not fun, and can damage the kidneys if it goes on long enough. Heat stroke can be fatal, and fatal rapidly," Jenkins added.

Heat exhaustion is generally when someone has just been overworked and their body has not yet cooled down properly.

Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Heavy sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Pale skin
  • Dark colored urine
  • Dizziness or fainting

Heat stroke is more dangerous, as it damages the brain's Thalamus, which regulates body temperature. Symptoms include:

  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Shallow breathing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vomiting

"That's usually when you see body temperatures shooting way high, " said Jenkins, about heat stroke, "106, 107,108, really extraordinarily high. At that point the body is no longer capable of regulating its own temperature. Often times people stop sweating ironically…"

Here are some ways to prevent heat related illnesses:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Wear light, bright colored clothing
  • Wear protective clothing such as hats, long sleeved shirts, and long pants to avoid direct heat and sunlight
  • Try to avoid going outside between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

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