Warning Signs & Symptoms of Heat-Related Illnesses

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August is here! This means it’s time for the kids to prepare to go back to school and it is also the last call for any summer vacations! This summer has been one for the books with record-breaking heat temperatures. Whenever this season comes back around, we all must make sure that we stay safe because extreme heat can cause an array of health problems. Let’s dive into the possibilities that could happen if we are not careful with the warm weather we’re having.

CDC extreme heat-related illnesses infographic

 

  • Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion happens when your body starts to overheat and can’t cool itself down. Heat exhaustion is more common than we think. It can be more common during any physical activity, like exercise. During physical activity, our bodies start to lose fluids when we sweat and if we don’t replace those fluids, dehydration could happen. Some examples of heat exhaustion symptoms are dizziness, fever, excessive sweating, and fatigue. 

 

  • Heatstroke: Heatstroke is a condition that is caused by the body overheating, kind of like heat exhaustion. Long exposure to the sun can cause a heat stroke, and it can also be life-threatening if a person stays outside for too long. Usually, we can cool ourselves down by sweating, but in extreme heat, our cooling systems could fail, and heat will start to build up. Some examples of heatstroke symptoms are headaches, dizziness, disorientation, and even seizures. 

  

  • Dehydration: Dehydration happens when we lose more fluids than what we take in. If our bodies don’t have enough water or any other fluids, it can stop functioning. When a person becomes sick with a fever, starts to vomit, or has diarrhea, that could cause dehydration. It can also occur if the person has been outside in the sun and they’re not drinking enough water. Everyone is different and everyone may experience symptoms differently. Some symptoms of dehydration might include fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness, and confusion. 

 

While we are looking out for ourselves this summer with the heat, we also must look out for our pets too! Pets can experience heat stroke just like we can. Pets can usually cool themselves off by panting, but they only have a few sweat glands and can’t cool themselves off by sweating like we do, so they can overheat more easily. Heatstroke can also be very common for pets if they’re left outside during hot days, but other factors can cause pets to have heatstroke as well. Some of the factors include high humidity, no access to water, and if pets are stuck in a house or car with no ventilation or air conditioning. 

 

Since we’ve talked about the dangers of extreme heat and how the consequences of that can affect us in different ways, now let’s talk about how we can avoid dehydration and any other heat-related illnesses. It’s very simple really. 

 

  • Drinking water: The best way to avoid dehydration and other heat-related illnesses is to drink plenty of fluids. Drinking enough water every day is very important for our health. Our bodies are made up of 60% water and making sure to stay hydrated is very beneficial. When we’re out in the hot sun or exercising, it is very important to drink enough water to keep up with what our bodies are getting rid of. Water helps our bodies keep a normal temperature, lubricates our joints, and gets rid of wastes through urination, bowel movements, and sweating. 

 

Sometimes we find ourselves forgetting to drink enough water throughout the day. Here are some tips so we can remember to drink enough:

 

  • Always carry a water bottle with us and remember to refill it periodically.
  • Start choosing water instead of sugary drinks, especially when we’re eating meals.
  • Add some flavor to our water. We can add a wedge of lemon or limes to our water to help improve the taste and it can help us drink more water than we usually do.

 

Believe it or not, drinking water is good for our teeth as well, especially if it’s with fluoride! Drinking water with fluoride is one of the easiest ways to prevent cavities. Here are some other ways that drinking water is beneficial to our teeth: 

 

  • It keeps our mouths clean: When we’re eating meals, it is very easy for us to want to pick up a soda to wash down whatever we were eating, but that can also leave unwanted sugar in our teeth. The bacteria in our mouths would love to eat the sugar and produce acid that can break down our enamel. Water washes away any left-over food in our mouths, which means the bacteria can’t find any sugar to break down. Drinking water throughout the day can keep our mouths cavity-free, and always brushing our teeth two times a day. 

 

  • It fights dry mouth: Our mouths are filled with saliva. Saliva is our mouth's defense against tooth decay. It washes away leftover food just like water and it keeps our teeth strong by washing them with calcium, fluoride, and phosphate. 

 

 

Who knew that drinking water can be very beneficial to our health and even help save our teeth in the process? This summer has been a hot one and it’ll keep getting hotter. While we are all outside in the sun having the most fun as we can, it is very important to drink enough water as we can throughout the day. Have fun and stay safe out there!