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Three stages of heat illness

heat illness

Now’s the time of year when you start spending lots of time outside gardening, hanging out by the pool, and watching those youth sports events. Be sure you know the warning signs of heat illness – they can often sneak up on you. Via Christi Sports Medicine offers these tips to help you and your family stay safe during hot weather.

  • Ease into outside activities over several days.
  • Take care to drink plenty of fluids - preferably water or sports drinks - before, during, and after activity.
  • If you feel warm or sluggish, stop, rest, cool down and drink fluids. Don't wait until you feel thirsty. By then, you may already be dehydrated.
  • And remember: Untreated, heat illness can be dangerous.

Three stages of heat illness:

  1. Heat cramps, the mildest form of heat illness, occurs when exertion and excessive sweating causes a shortage of salt in your body. To relieve heat cramps, drink water, sports drinks and stretch your muscles.
  2. Heat exhaustion is a more serious heat illness caused when your overheated body becomes dehydrated by sweating and heavy breathing. You may have a slightly elevated temperature, heavy perspiration, pale and clammy skin, and increased pulse, and you may feel weak, dizzy, thirsty, anxious and nauseated. To treat heat exhaustion, drink water or sports drinks and lay down to rest in a cool place.
  3. Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat illness, caused when your body's normal cooling mechanisms - sweating and deep breathing - can't cool you fast enough and your core temperature becomes dangerously high. The person with heat stroke will have hot, flushed skin, a fast pulse, high temperature, dilated pupils, be disoriented and may even have a seizure. Call 911 and immediately move the person to a cooler place, removing excess clothing, spray them with cool water or place an ice pack under their arms. It's also helpful to vigorous massage their arms and legs to aid circulation.