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  • Last modified 2329 days ago (June 27, 2012)

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Heat poses health risks

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for much of Kansas, and Kansas Department of Health and Environment urges residents to watch for the signs of several heat-related ailments.

  • Heat exhaustion is a mild form of heat-related illness in response to loss of water and salt in sweat. Symptoms include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and fainting. The victim’s skin may be cool and moist, and their pulse will be fast but week; breathing will be fast and shallow. Left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke. Seek medical attention if symptoms are severe or the victim has heart problems or high blood pressure. Otherwise help the victim cool off and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last more than an hour.
  • Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. Body temperature rises rapidly, sweating fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106 degrees or higher. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment isn’t provided. Warning signs include extremely high body temperature — above 103 degrees — red, hot, and dry skin with no sweat; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and unconsciousness. Any of these signs may be symptoms of a life-threatening emergency. Call for immediate medical assistance and begin cooling the victim down. Get the victim to a shady area and cool them rapidly using any methods available, including immersion in cool water or in a cool shower, spraying the victim with cool water from a garden house, and sponging the person with cool water. Do not give the victim fluids to drink. If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call a hospital emergency room for further instructions.
  • Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather; it is most common in young children. It looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters, often on the neck, upper chest, groin, under breasts, and in elbow creases. The best treatment is to provide a cooler, less humid environment. Keep the affected area dry.
  • Sunburn is skin damage caused by prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet light of the sun; the skin becomes red, painful, and abnormally warm, possibly blistering or peeling with severe sunburns. Most sunburns heal in about a week on their own, but severe sunburns may require medical attention. Consult a doctor if sunburn affects a child less than 1 year old or if symptoms include fever, fluid-filled blisters, or severe pain. When treating sunburn, avoid repeated sun exposure, apply cold compresses or immerse the affected area in cool water, apply moisturizing lotion but do not use salve, butter, or ointment, and do not break blisters.
  • Heat cramps usually affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. Loss of salt can cause heat cramps. They are muscle pains or spasms, usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs. People suffering heat crams should stop all activity and sit quietly in a cool place and drink clear juice or a sports drink. Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after cramps subside. Seek medical attention if the cramps do not subside in one hour, or if the affecter person has heart problems or is on a low-sodium diet.

Last modified June 27, 2012

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