As temperatures rise be aware of heat dangers

Published 10:00pm Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer is here, and more folks are enjoying outdoor activities. That coupled with the recent heat wave make for the possibility of two very dangerous health conditions – heat stroke and heat exhaustion. In today’s column I’d like to apprise you of the signs, symptoms, and treatment of these maladies.
Heat stroke is actually a type of “hyperthermia”, which is abnormally elevated body temperature. This shouldn’t be confused with “hypothermia”, where the body’s temperature is abnormally low. Usually, when body temperature rises, heat dissipates by either radiating throughout the skin or by evaporation of sweat from the skin. However, when these mechanisms fail to work properly, body temperature can rise to 106 F, or higher.
Heat stroke can come on quickly, and its symptoms sometime mimic those of a heart attack. Individuals might have different symptoms, but most symptoms of heat stroke include hot, red, or flushed dry skin, high body temperature, absence of sweating, confusion, agitation, difficulty breathing, hallucinations, disorientation, seizures, and even coma.
This condition can be fatal, if not quickly treated. The most important action in this situation is to cool the victim. First, get the victim to a shady area, remove clothing, and apply cool or tepid water (not ice cold) to the skin. Fan the victim to encourage evaporation.
Apply ice packs to victim’s chest, neck, arm pits and groin. Monitor body temperature with thermometer until temperature decreases to 101 to102 F. Call 911 immediately. Those most susceptible to heat stroke include outdoor workers, athletes, the elderly (especially those with heart, lung, or kidney disease, and those on medications that prevent them from sweating), young people, children, and yes, your pets. To prevent heat stroke, be sure to stay well hydrated, because a dehydrated person may not be able to sweat fast enough to dissipate body heat.
Take frequent breaks to hydrate yourself. Wear hats and lightweight, loose fitting clothing. Get plenty of electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium. Fruits, vegetables, and their juices are great sources.
Now let’s turn our attention to “heat exhaustion”. Heat exhaustion is a heat related illness that occurs when one has been exposed to high temperatures, usually for several days, and sweated enough to experience dehydration.
There are two types of heat exhaustion. “Water depletion” whose symptoms include excessive thirst, headache, weakness, and sometimes loss of consciousness, and “salt depletion” whose symptoms might include nausea, vomiting, and muscle cramps. Although heat exhaustion is not quite as severe as heat stroke, it’s nothing to take lightly. If not treated promptly, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. Other symptoms of heat exhaustion include fatigue, rapid heartbeat, profuse sweating, pale clammy skin, dizziness, fainting, and dark colored urine (this indicated dehydration.)
Now, if you’re taking a vitamin/mineral supplement, your urine might be yellow, because B vitamins are yellow, and don’t change color when they leave the body. This is perfectly natural and harmless, but even if your urine is yellow, it should be bright and clear, not dark. Also, drink water all through the day don’t just drink as much water as you can in one sitting.
In fact if you were to sit and drink two gallons of water at one time, it could actually kill you by making your brain swell. Also, try to avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks, because these will dehydrate you even more. Use these tips for both a safe and enjoyable summer.
Diet or fitness question? Email me at or visit David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 27 years.
He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach  for the USC-Spartanburg baseball team, S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, and the Converse college equestrian team.
He served as a water safety consultant to the United States Marine Corps., lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, taught four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.

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