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Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Church Health

Summertime in Memphis is a fun time for our favorite outdoor activities,

but the heat can be dangerous. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke happen when your body can’t keep itself cool. Normally your body sweats to stay cool, but on hot, humid days like the ones we're having, your body can’t sweat enough to keep up with the very hot temperatures. If you must be outside, or work in a hot environment, drink water or other fluids every 15 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty. 

Try to schedule your outdoor activities, such as yard work, before 10 AM or after 6 PM, and take frequent breaks. 

Certain things make you prone to heat exhaustion, especially caffeine and alcohol, as well as certain medications. These include some types of blood pressure medications, diet pills, and antibiotics.

Never leave a child or pet in your car when it is hot outside.  Leaving the windows open is not enough to prevent intense heat inside the car.

If you do notice symptoms such as muscle cramps, confusion, headache, nausea, or rapid heartbeat, you may be suffering heat exhaustion. Get out of the heat quickly and lie down. Take off tight clothing. Apply cool towels to your skin or take a cool bath.  Drink sips of fluids without caffeine or alcohol. If someone you are with has these symptoms and develops a fever, or faints, call 911.   Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which can be fatal.

Remember to check on neighbors during a heat wave, especially the elderly who don’t tolerate excess heat as well.

This is Dr. Susan Nelson for Church Health.