Posts Tagged ‘heat stroke’

Heat-Related Illnesses & What To Do

man suffering from heat-related ilnessesHave you ever heard of heat exhaustion, heat rash, heat cramps or heat stroke? Yes, heat stroke! It’s a real thing! In this blog we’ll discuss the wide range of heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them.

Heat-related illnesses occur when the body is unable to cool itself down. The body is designed to cool off naturally through sweating, this helps maintain an average internal temperature of 98.6 degrees. However, when temperature is hot and the air humid, it’s hard for sweat to evaporate fast enough to cool your body so it overheats. This is when heat-related illnesses happen.

SO WHAT ARE HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES?

Heat-related illnesses are a group of conditions brought on by staying outside in hot temperatures for too long and/or exercising too much. Here are the four types:

  • Heat Cramps Pain or muscle spasms that typically happen during intense exercise or work in hot temperatures. Symptoms can include: thirst, fatigue, and excessive sweating
  • Heat Rash Skin irritation resulting from heavy sweating. Symptoms can include: blisters or bumps filled with fluid or red, itchy bumps
  • Heat Exhaustion This happens before heat stroke. Symptoms can include:
    • Fatigue
    • Weak, fast pulse
    • Excessive sweating
    • Rapid breathing
    • Nausea
    • Faintness
    • Clammy skin
    • Low blood pressure
    • Headache
    • Muscle cramps
  • Heat Stroke This life-threatening condition can lead to brain damage and/or organ failure. During heat stroke, your body temperature can reach 106 degrees or higher. Call 911 immediately if someone is experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:
    • Dizziness
    • Weakness or muscle cramps
    • Confusion
    • Difficulty walking
    • Strong, fast pulse
    • Dry, hot and/or red skin
    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Shallow, rapid breathing
    • Unconsciousness
    • Seizures

WHO’S AT RISK FOR HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES?

Certain people are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses than others. This includes:

  • Children under 4 years of age
  • Those over 65
  • Those who are overweight
  • Those who are sick
  • Those not used to warm temperatures
  • Those using certain medications for allergies, high blood pressure, heart issues, etc.

You may also increase your risk of heat-related illness if you:

  • Become dehydrated
  • Drink alcohol
  • Wear too many clothes
  • Exercise or work in high-heat, high-humidity conditions

HOW DO YOU TREAT HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES?

Here are the most effective ways to treat most heat-related conditions at home.

Heat Cramps

  • Rest
  • Move to a cooler place, such as the shade or indoors
  • Drink cool water or a sports drink with electrolytes

Heat Rash

  • Seek air conditioning or a fan to cool off
  • Take a cool shower or bath
  • Allow your skin to air-dry and avoid oil-based lotions until symptoms subside (oil prevents your skin from sweating)
  • See your physician if your rash does not go away after a few days

Heat Exhaustion

  • Rest
  • Drink cool water or a sports drink with electrolytes
  • Loosen your clothing and/or remove unnecessary items
  • Place a cool, wet towel on your neck or take a cool shower

Heat Stroke

  • Call 911 if you are experiencing signs of a heatstroke

HOW DO YOU PREVENT HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES?

Prevention of illnesses is the best way to avoid the negative health consequences. Here’s what you need to do.

  • Avoid spending excessive time outdoors in direct sunlight and high temperatures
  • Lose weight if overweight or obese
  • Use sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat or an umbrella
  • Visit air-conditioned places such as a malls or coffee shops
  • Stay well hydrated
  • Avoid alcohol when outdoors in high temperatures
  • Talk to your physician about your medications to see if any put you at risk of heat illness
  • Do not leave a child or pet in a hot car, even for just a few moments

Are you looking for a physician or hospital near you?

About Dr. Mines

Brandon Mines, MDBrandon Mines, MD, is an assistant professor of orthopaedics. Dr. Mines started practicing at Emory in 2005 after completing his Sports Medicine Fellowship at University of California – Los Angeles. Dr. Mines is board certified in both family practice and sports medicine. He has focused his clinical interest on sports injuries and conditions of the shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand, knee, foot and ankle. He is head team physician for the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Atlanta Dream.

Dr. Mines is a rotational physician for United States soccer teams and team physician for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons along with various local high schools, colleges, and community club teams. He enjoys giving talks and lectures regarding the prevention of sports injuries. In fact, as an active member of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the American Society for Sports Medicine, Dr. Mines has attended and presented at various national conferences. Through the years, he has helped all levels of athletes return to the top of their game.

How to Recognize & Prevent Heat-Related Illness

heat-exhaustionWith the extremely hot temperatures this summer and school sports about ready to start up, heat illness is a problem that should be on every athlete, coach, and parent’s mind. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 618 deaths per year are due to heat-related illness. Heat illness is triggered by environmental heat exposure and occurs when the body is unable to cool itself down. Heat can cause a wide range of problems from tight muscles and flushing to complete organ shut down and death. Heat-related illnesses include the following:

  • Heat cramps – muscle pains or spasms that happen during heavy exercise
  • Heat rash – skin irritation from excessive sweating
  • Heat exhaustion – an illness that can come before a heatstroke as the body is beginning to overheat and shut down
  • Heatstroke – a severe, life-threatening illness in which body loses it’s ability to regulate heat and core body temperature may rise above 106° F in minutes

People who are at greatest risk for heat-related illnesses are infants and children up to four years of age, people age 65 and older, and people who are overweight, ill or on certain medications.

Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable. Below are some warning signs to watch out for as well as tips for how to respond:

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

• Weakness
• Headaches or mild confusion
• Cold, pale, and clammy skin
• Fast, weak pulse
• Nausea or vomiting
• Cramping
• Abnormal Breathing
• Fainting

What You Should Do:

• Move to a cooler location.
• Lie down and loosen your clothing.
• Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible.
• Sip water.
• Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting begins and persists.

Signs of Heat Stroke

• High body temperature (above 103°F)*
• Hot, red, dry or moist skin
• Rapid and strong pulse
• Seizures
• Possible unconsciousness or severe mental changes

What You Should Do:

• Call 911 immediately — this is a medical emergency.
• Move the person to a cooler environment.
• Reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.
• Do NOT give fluids.

During hot weather it is important to increase your fluid intake, regardless of activity level. Drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour and avoid drinks containing alcohol or a lot of sugar as they will essentially cause you to lose more fluid. It is important to drink some electrolytes too. A watered down sports drink is probably the best balance of fluids and electrolytes. Make sure you are “pre-hydrating” by drinking fluids prior to the activity. If you start a practice or game dehydrated, then you will only become more dehydrated and are more likely to have problems. You can monitor your hydration status by checking your urine when you use the restroom. Your urine should be clear if you are well-hydrated; a dark yellow means you need to drink more fluids.

Remember to keep cool, wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen, and stay indoors if possible. Finally, be sure to speak up and notify coaches, teammates, parents if you are starting to feel bad with cramping, confusion, or other concerning signs.

Related Resources
Preventing & Recognizing Symptoms of Dehydration Among Student Athletes

About Dr. Jeff Webb

Jefwebb-jeffreyfrey Webb, MD, sees patients of all ages and abilities with musculoskeletal problems, but specializes in the care of pediatric and adolescent patients. He works hard to get players “back in the game” safely and as quickly as possible. During his training and practice he has provided medical coverage for division I college football and other sports, multiple high schools, ballet, the Rockettes, marathons, international track and field events, and the Special Olympics. He is a team physician for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and serves as the primary care sports medicine and concussion specialist for the team. He is also a consulting physician for several Atlanta area high schools, the Atlanta Dekalb International Olympic Training Center, Emory University, Oglethorpe University, Georgia Perimeter College and many other club sports teams.

He is active in the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics professional societies and has given multiple lectures at national conferences as well as contributed to sports medicine text books.

Preventing & Recognizing Symptoms of Dehydration Among Student Athletes

Prevent Dehydration Athletes SummerDehydration is a common condition for student athletes practicing in the hot summer months. In fact, a student at North Forsyth High School recently collapsed at football practice and had to be rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with severe dehydration. Luckily, the student athlete was released that night and is now doing fine. In the CBS Atlanta news video below, Emory Sports Medicine physician Jeff Webb, MD, states that dehydration can be prevented.

Dr. Webb stresses to parents, coaches and players that it is extremely important to drink plenty of fluids before practice, during practice and after practice to avoid dehydration. It is also important to watch for signs of fatigue, cramping, profuse sweating and exhaustion in the student athletes. In order to prevent heat illness, it is important to take the heat seriously and prepare your body for practicing in the heat. Often times, coaches want to push student athletes to get them in shape quickly for sports season, but it is imperative that coaches, parents and certified athletic trainers, if available, closely monitor the students, providing adequate drink breaks and allowing the athletes to hydrate properly in order for the athletes to perform their best.

Check out the full video below!

About Dr. Jeff Webb
Jeffrey Webb, MDJeff Webb, MD, is an assistant professor of orthopaedics at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Dr. Webb started practicing at Emory in 2008 after completing a Fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. He is board certified in pediatrics and sports medicine. He is a team physician for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, and serves as the primary care sports medicine and concussion specialist for the team. He is also a consulting team physician for several Atlanta area high schools, Emory University, Oglethorpe University, and many other club sports.

Dr. Webb sees patients of all ages and abilities with musculoskeletal problems, but specializes in the care of pediatric and adolescent patients. He works hard to get players “back in the game” safely and as quickly as possible. He is currently active in the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics professional societies and has given multiple lectures at national conferences as well as contributed to sports medicine text books.

Related Resources:

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