Heat-Related Conditions During Summer
The summer is nearly upon us, and for medical professionals everywhere, that means an uptick in heat-related illnesses and conditions. Three common such conditions are heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
At Family Medical Clinic, our urgent care clinic sees plenty of these kinds of cases over the summer. Let’s look at each of them, how you can identify them, and some immediate steps you can take to help reduce symptoms while you seek medical attention.
Heat cramps are often the first sign that the body is struggling with heat – they often come before one of the other conditions we’ll discuss momentarily. They’re characterized by painful muscle cramps, generally in the legs or abdomen, spasms, and extreme sweating. They can be treated by gentle massages and drinking water (unless the person is nauseous, in which case don’t give them water). However, if you notice heat cramp signs, you should be on the lookout for these other more serious areas as well.
Heat exhaustion is the next step up from heat cramps, and may have some of the same initial symptoms, only more severe. They include weakness, a weak-but-rapid pulse, cramps, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, fainting, and skin that’s cool, pale or clammy to the touch.
If you’re near someone who looks to be experiencing heat exhaustion, quickly help them move to somewhere cooler. Lay them down, loosen their clothing, and apply wet cloths wherever possible on their body. Offer water as needed. If the person vomits or thinks they will vomit soon, seek medical attention right away.
Heat stroke, often considered the most serious of these conditions, is marked by an altered mental state in many cases – people may seem delusional. They may be confused, have a huge headache, be nauseous or dizzy, or have trouble breathing. In addition, they will have a body temperature over 103 degrees Fahrenheit and skin that’s hot, red or dry. If they faint or lose consciousness, or if you note a rapid and strong pulse, these are other signs. Any of these symptoms should result in you calling 911 and getting the victim medical attention right away, as heat stroke can cause death. Similar cooling tactics listed above for heat exhaustion can be used, though take care not to give water or other fluids.
For more on heat-related medical conditions this summer, or to learn about how our clinic or family doctor services can help, speak to the staff at Family Medical Clinic today.