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Format: 04/21/2014
Format: 04/21/2014

News

Hot Weather Poses Health Risks to Seniors, Children

Friday, June 21st, 2013

While summer can be an exciting time for most, the heat that comes with it can lead to serious health consequences, according to emergency medicine specialists at the Allegheny Health Network.
 
Heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses are extremely common when temperatures exceed 80 degrees and both senior citizens and young children are among those at particular risk. 
 
Allegheny Health Network offers seniors and others the following tips on how to stay safe and beat the heat:
·         Expect temperature changes. Immediately upon coming indoors, turn on air conditioning or other cooling systems and remove any extra clothing layers. This will help maintain a comfortable indoor-outdoor environment.
·         Relax. Don’t overexert yourself when the temperature reaches extreme highs. Avoid strenuous activities and try to stay in cool areas as much as possible.
·         Protect yourself. Extended periods of time in the sun can be damaging. Always apply sunblock when you will be outside for a long period of time—even on hazy or cloudy days.
·         Drink plenty of fluids. Stay hydrated even if you do not feel thirsty. Appropriate fluids to drink are water and sports drinks. Try to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.
·         Dress appropriately. Clothing should be lightweight and lightly colored. Looser fitting clothing will help reflect heat and sunlight and regulate overall body temperature.
·         Look out for one another. Be sure to check on family members, friends, or neighbors who may be older or on health aide to make sure they are taking all the necessary precautions to protect themselves during a heat wave
·         Automobiles. NEVER leave anyone (or any animal) in a closed, parked vehicle.
 
Heat related illnesses that people should be familiar with include the following:
 
·         Heat cramps: Muscle pains and spasms due to heavy exertion, which usually involve the abdominal muscles or the legs.
 
·         Heat Exhaustion: Less dangerous than heat stroke, heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a warm, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. With heat exhaustion, sweat does not evaporate as it should, possibly because of high humidity or too many layers of clothing. As a result, the body is not cooled properly. Symptoms include cool, moist, pale, flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.
 
·         Heat Stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. The main symptom is a change in consciousness. Others include hot, red and dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can rise as high as 105oF.
 
People can still enjoy the summer weather and outdoor activities, but they should exercise precaution and be able to recognize a potential problem,” said Thomas Campbell, MD, a Chair of Emergency Medicine at the Allegheny Health Network. “If there is a problem, they should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room for treatment.”
For more information, contact:
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