So with the high temperatures of this last week, we had a ton of patients come to the emergency room with heat exposure issues. With this in mind, I felt that I should discuss heat exposures. These conditions start with heat cramps, then heat exhaustion and finally heat stroke (medical emergency). Heat cramps are muscle spasms caused by the loss of electrolytes through sweating and are a warning sign to hydrate or drink fluids, and cool down as soon as possible. If one fails to heed this warning sign, the next condition to follow is heat exhaustion. This is marked by signs of dizziness, fainting, weakness, nausea, heavy sweating and possibly pale clammy skin. Do not continue your activity in the heat if this occurs. Get to a shaded area, hydrate, loosen clothing, apply cool compresses and if the symptoms continue, see medical help as soon as possible. Lastly, though not common, heat stroke may evolve and is a medical emergency identified by signs of red hot dry skin, lack of sweating, rapid heart rate, confusion unconsciousness and possibly convulsions.
If any of they symptoms are noted, immediately cool the person by removing as much clothes as possible, place them in cold water, rehydrate as able, raise their head and shoulders, watch for shock and obtain medical help as soon as possible. Symptoms of shock include pale, cold, clammy skin, weak and rapid pulses, general body weakness. Treat someone with shock by laying the person down, covering them with a blanket to avoid chilling, raise the head and shoulders if the person has difficulty breathing. If medical help will not be available within 30 minutes, give a lukewarm solution of water consisting of 1/2 glass doses of 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon baking soda every 15 minutes. NEVER give fluids to someone who is nauseated, has penetrating abdominal wound or requires surgery. In an emergency situation the following saying is helpful to remember the treatments for shock and heat exposures “If they are pale raise their tail (feet), if they are red raise their head” !