Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illness | Environment
The high temperatures Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley are currently experiencing can lead to serious heat-related illnesses for some members of the community, cautions an emergency medicine physician at Washington Regional in Fayetteville.
“Be aware of who is at greatest risk for heat-related illness—the very young and the very old,” says Sammy Turner, M.D. “Be sure to drink plenty of fluids if you need to be in a non-air-conditioned area for any length of time, and make sure others stay hydrated as well.” Watch for signs of heat exhaustion—nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, heavy perspiration, weakness, muscle cramps, paleness or fainting—and get the person into a cool area and provide lots of cold, non-alcoholic fluids. Most of all, act fast. If not treated early, Dr. Turner says, heat exhaustion may progress to heat stroke.
Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to cool itself through normal mechanisms such as sweating. In extreme conditions, sweating becomes inadequate. When heat stroke occurs, the body’s temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. High body temperatures can damage the brain or other vital organs.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 right away if these symptoms are present:
- Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
- Throbbing headache
- High body temperature
- Slurred speech
After calling 911, move the heat stroke victim to shade or an air-conditioned building. Do not give the person fluids to drink. Place the victim in a tub or shower of cool water; spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose or sponge the person with cool water until medical help arrives.