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Education and Prevention

HEAT RELATED INJURIES

Each year we see numerous heat-related injuries due to our warm summer climate. High humidity combined with temperatures over 95 degrees can result in at least three distinct types of injuries:

Heat Cramps – Painful cramping of large muscle groups such as the legs, arms, and abdomen. Treatment includes fluid and electrolyte replacement and movement to a shaded area.

Heat Exhaustion – More serious than heat cramps. Symptoms include heavy sweating, headache, light-headedness, nausea and vomiting and core temperature of 99-104 degrees. Initial treatment should include movement to a shaded environment, loosening clothing and giving 1-2 liters of fluid over 2 to 4 hours.

Heat Stroke – Serious emergency! Elevated temperature with central nervous disturbance and possible absence of sweating. Damage to brain and vital organs are a real possibility. Treatment should include calling EMS and cooling the patient aggressively with a fan and ice packs in the groin and under the armpits.

Certain medications can cause a person to be at increased risk of heat injuries. Laxatives, diuretics, and certain over-the-counter cold and allergy medications can aggravate the situation. When in doubt, ask your physician about risk factors for all medications you are taking. Remember, always drink plenty of fluids.