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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Heat Stroke Can Kill

As summer approaches, once again we may face heat waves and perhaps weeks of sweltering hot temperatures. In 2003, Europe suffered the hottest weather on record since 1540. Approximately 70,000 people died from the heat that year.

People die for many reasons due to rising temperatures, and the elderly and those with medical problems are more likely to succumb to the heat. For others, heat can produce a series of reactions that can quickly lead to heat stroke and death.

Stage One - Heat cramps and spasms occur in the arms, legs and abdomen resulting from salt depletion, and the patient sweats profusely. Treatment: Secure the patient in a cool place and give them plenty of fluids. Sports drinks are good because they replace lost electrolytes.

Stage Two - Fainting can occur when people are standing in one position in the heat, causing blood to concentrate in the lower parts of the body. Treatment: Kep the patient lying down with feet elevated and administer cool, moist cloths to the body. When they are awake, give them plenty of fluids and move them to a cool place.

Stage Three - Heat exhaustion occurs when the patient is losing more water in perspiration than they are drinking. Symptoms include profuse sweating, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache and cool, clammy cold skin. This person is on the verge of a heat stroke. Treatment: At this point, it is not only necessary to cool them down and administer fluids but also to transport them to the emergency room.

Stage Four - Heat sroke is a fine line from heat exhaustion. When heat stroke occurs, the patient loses consciousness and within a short period of time, the organs will begin to shut down. They will have a rapid pulse and may go into convulstions. Treatment: Call 911 immediately for help and cool the patient down as quickly as possible. During the heat stroke stage, the body temperature is over 104 degrees and is life-threatening.

Summer is a great season to enjoy outdoor activities but precautions need to be taken when temperatures rise above 85 degrees, and extreme caution is in order when the heat rises above 96 degrees.
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