Spring 2008

Summer School

Summer is upon us and the temperature is rising so we thought we would school you on the issue of heat related illnesses.  Excessive heat build-up in the body due to physical exertion and/or hot and humid weather, can cause the following medical conditions:

Heat Rash – A skin irritation caused by excessive sweating.

Sunburn – Overexposure to the sun which causes immediate burns and blisters.

Heat Cramps – Sweating excessively during physical exertion depletes the body’s salt and fluids, causing painful cramps in the muscles.

Fainting – Caused by an inadequate blood supply to the brain, often due to dehydration.

Heat Exhaustion – Caused by a loss of fluids due to sweating and/or not replenishing with the proper fluids.  Symptoms include sweating, clamminess, fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness, headache, fast or weak pulse, and/or fast or slow breathing.

Heat Stroke – A life threatening emergency which occurs when the body heats up to a point where the temperature control system shuts down leaving the body to heat up internally.  Signs of impending heat stroke are altered behavior, convulsions, unconsciousness, and usually, a lack of perspiration.

In combating heat illnesses, prevention is the best cure.  When working in a location with high temperatures, it is important to acclimate to the heat by taking a few days to start working slowly while staying hydrated by drinking small quantities of water frequently throughout the day.  Remember, if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  Eat light meals (heavy meals can create internal heat) and avoid coffee and sodas.  Lastly, cover up.  Try wearing sunglasses, a light-colored, loose fitting long sleeve shirt and pants, sunscreen and wide brimmed hats that cover your ears and neck.

Most importantly, if you have or see anyone else with the above symptoms, make sure to see a set medic or medical professional immediately.