preventing and treating heat-related illnesses

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – With the start of summer a week away, what are the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how can you prevent them?

Dr. Joseph Schmidt, vice chair and chief of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Baystate Health, spoke with Western Mass News about the issue.

With expected warm temperatures this summer, what are some of the first symptoms to watch out for when it comes to heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion?

Schmidt: “The first thing people will likely experience is that they will start to not feeling very good. Sometimes, they can be a little nauseous, sick to their stomach. They can develop a headache, they can devlop some muscle cramps and just feeling kind of lousy. Those can be the early signs.”

When should you be treated for such illnesses?

Schmidt: “So as soon as you start to feel that way, the best things to do you know is get out of the heat if you can do that at all, at least get into the shade, drink fluids, you know, water mixed with sports drinks, those are good options. If you start to feel much better, I think people in good shape, probably don’t need to see medical attention, but if those symptoms progress and particurlarly the worry sign is the next phase people can start to get confused, that’s heat stroke and absolutely they need to seek medical care.”

What ways can you prevent heat-related illnesses?

Schmidt: “So the first would be, you know, if you can avoid the hot envirornment, that’s ideal you know, if you have options to be in an air conditioned envirornment. If you happen to be outside, then try to limit your activities, certainly less than you normally do. Drink plenty of fluids, take frequent breaks, and avoid the hottest part of the day. Obviously, if you have to do something, you’re better off getting it done early in the morning or later in the evening when the temperatures usally are a little more moderate.”

What do you recommend regarding exercise?

Schmidt: “Again, I think that would be very similar. You’re going to lose more fluids, so you want to make sure that you’re staying hydrated and even consider moving your exercise, if at all possible, to those times when temperatures are not as extreme, so earlier in the day or later in the day and if you start to tell at all unwell, that’s the time to stop, get out of the heat, and drink more fluids. Those would be the big things.”

Aish Barbara

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