Coping with the Heat

Exposure to intense heat, sun, and high humidity can cause heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat stroke (also known as sun stroke). As the body works to cool itself under extreme or prolonged heat, blood rushes to the surface of your skin. As a result, less blood reaches your brain, muscles, and other organs. This can interfere with both your physical strength and your mental functions, leading, in some cases, to serious danger.

During extremely hot weather, precautions should be taken to avoid heat-related complications. Those who take certain medications for high blood pressure, depression, or allergy are at greater risk. Use common sense as you go about your daily routine. Eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids; at least 8 to 10 tall glasses of liquid each day. You should be drinking enough fluid that your urine is clear or pale yellow. Avoid prolonged outdoor activities such as hard labor, jogging, tennis, racquetball, etc. If you feel you must exercise, swimming is recommended. Remember, if you must do heavy activity, such as "move-in" day on campus, take regular breaks in a cool place. Dress in lightweight, well-ventilated clothing, and wear a wide-brimmed hat. Use sunscreen to prevent sunburn, which can hinder the skin’s ability to cool itself. It is important to avoid alcohol and caffeine, which cause dehydration. Clear liquids are best - preferably water. Other good choices include lemonade and juices.

HEAT CRAMPS

Heat cramp symptoms include:

HEAT EXHAUSTION

Heat exhaustion is a condition brought on when the body's temperature control system is overloaded. The body normally cools itself by sweating, but sometimes sweating is not enough.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion are:

To treat heat exhaustion:

For further assistance, call the Dial-A-Nurse at 333-2700.

HEAT STROKE

Heat stroke is a more serious condition in which the body fails at regulating its own temperature. This condition happens abruptly and is considered an emergency.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke are:

If any of these symptoms are present:

References

Emedicine Web site (http://emedicine.medscape.com) search for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke.
WebMD Web site (www.webmd.com), search for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke.