As we get closer and closer to Georgia's scorching summer temperatures, the staff at Resurgens Orthopaedics feels it's more important than ever to share some information about heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and what to do if you feel the symptoms of these two potentially deadly conditions. Heat Awareness Day is an appropriate occasion to spread some knowledge about heat-related illnesses so you can stay safe this summer.
What is Heat-Related Illness?
Heat-related illnesses occur when the body responds to high temperatures and physical activity by sweating. As you sweat, not only do you lose fluids from your body, but you also lose the electrolytes that are critical to proper brain function and other important bodily functions. If the loss of these fluids and electrolytes outpaces your ability to replenish them, you become dehydrated and your risk of heat illnesses like heat stroke dramatically increase. If you don't do something to re-hydrate and lower your core body temperature, you can end up doing serious damage to your body or you can even die. Heat-related illness cases tend to spike in July and August and athletes are at a particularly high risk.
Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness
By the time you begin to feel thirsty, you're likely already in a dehydrated state. From here, your condition can rapidly progress into heat exhaustion or heat stroke, so pay close attention to the following warning signs any time you're doing physical activities in a hot environment:
- Dark Colored Urine
- Dry Mouth
If left untreated, your symptoms can become more severe, including difficulty breathing, increases in body temperature, muscle cramps, nausea, and tingling of the limbs. By this time it's important to get to a hospital right away because all heat illnesses can potentially be fatal.
Preventing Heat-Related Illness
Prevention is always the best policy to keep yourself out of trouble where heat-related illness is concerned. Any time you're going to be outdoors in the heat, be sure to bring plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing for the temperature. Sports drinks are a great way to replenish electrolytes but you'll also need to drink clear water before, during, and after any physical exertion in high temperatures. If possible, seek out the shade to stay cool; a wide brimmed hat or umbrella can help you find some shade when there are no trees nearby. During your physical activity, it's a good idea to take frequent breaks, during which you can rehydrate and cool down. One more thing: check the weather report before planning any physically demanding activities. If you see the mercury climbing, try putting off your outdoor activities until cooler temperatures roll around. Remember, no outdoor activity is worth risking your life for.
Summer is the perfect time to get some exercise outdoors, just be mindful of the dangers associated with heat-related illnesses and all the necessary precautions to prevent them. From all of us at Resurgens Orthopaedics, we hope you enjoy the warm weather this summer and remember to stay cool and stay hydrated!