One of the most common issues that you can face as you enjoy your time outside this summer is a heat-related illness.
Your body has a natural cooling system that is always working to maintain a safe temperature. Sweating helps your body cool down, but when you are exposed to high temperatures and the sun for a long time–working outdoors in the summer, for example–your cooling system has to work harder. Your body sends more blood to your skin and away from your muscles, brain and other organs, which can lead to a heat illness.
Heat-related illnesses can range from mild heat cramps to heat exhaustion to potentially life-threatening heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature and it keeps rising. Heatstroke can cause shock, brain damage, organ failure and even death. If you think someone is having a heat stroke, call 911 right away.
“The main things to remember are to avoid the hottest hours of the day, typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; make sure everyone has adequate hydration, especially children and older adults; and know the signs of heat-related illnesses,” said Karen Kuehl, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital and a wilderness medicine expert.
And don’t forget your pets! They need the same care and comforts you do on those hot summer days.
To learn more about the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, check out the infographic below.