Beating the summer heat is about more than simply staying cool and comfortable. As the temperatures increase and the humidity grows thicker, heat-related illnesses occur quickly. Most are easily avoided with the right protection and precaution, but you also need to know how to take care of yourself.
1. Feeling Faint
Feeling faint—or fainting—in the heat points to a problem known as heat syncope, which presents with sudden dizziness or an outright faint. It usually occurs in exceedingly hot weather, especially if you've been active in any way. You may experience cramps, along with cold sweats, a rapid heartbeat, and a weaker pulse. It's common to feel restless or nauseous too. Although syncope is a mild heat illness, it's still incredibly scary.
It's imperative to reach a cool, comfortable place, either in the shade or a cool room indoors. Make sure you put up your feet and stay calm. You need to avoid anything strenuous for a while. You should also hydrate with fluids that contain salt and added electrolytes.
2. Heat Cramps
Heat cramps may not seem like a big deal, but left untreated, they can lead to serious health problems. They typically occur when you exercise or get otherwise physical in high temperatures, but for sensitive individuals, even walking in intense temperatures can lead to heat cramps.
You'll notice cramps in your extremities first, especially your hands, legs, and feet, plus you'll feel flushed and sweaty. Move to a cooler spot and start resting. Get hydrated by drinking water or a sports drink high in electrolytes, and get rid of excess clothing. If they continue, you may want to find the closest urgent care center.
3. Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is a much more serious problem. It occurs when your body's trying to tell you that it's getting much too hot, and it generally strikes people who are strenuously exercising in the heat, older people, and anyone afflicted with high blood pressure. Some of the symptoms include:
- Cramps in the extremities and abdomen
- Pallor and a cold sweat
- A small fever
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea
- Feelings of giddiness
- Headache and fatigue
- And general weakness
It's essential to rest in a cool, comfortable place, while shedding excess layers of clothing. Hydrate yourself with water or a sports drink that has salt. Call for professional assistance, especially if the symptoms persist.
4. Early Signs of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is one of the most dangerous heat-related problems of all. It can quickly become life-threatening, especially if you don't take precautions or seek treatment immediately. Your body is no longer able to control its internal temperature, which can lead to death. Heat stroke often begins with a fever, which rises quickly and can cause permanent problems, if not death. You'll likely feel confused, aggressive and combative, and faint. Delirium and giddiness are common as well.
You should immediately move to a cooler place and call 911. Get rid of as much clothing as possible and spray yourself down using cool, not cold, water. You may also place ice packs in your armpits or around your groin, and try to drink as much water as you can.
You have to beat the heat for more than comfort; your health is at stake. How do you protect yourself in the sun?