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Beating the Heat: Essential Insights on Recognizing and Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses

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As summer temperatures soar and we spend more time outdoors, it is crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses.

Dr. Michael Patch Reveals Essential Insights on Recognizing & Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses

To shed light on this important topic, 10 News Tampa Bay spoke with Dr. Michael Patch, an Emergency Room Physician with AdventHealth, who explained the signs, prevention, and treatment of heat-related illnesses.

Heat-related illnesses encompass a range of conditions that can occur when the body's temperature regulation mechanisms are overwhelmed by excessive heat. Dr. Patch emphasized the importance of recognizing the early warning signs to prevent serious complications.

Heat Exhaustion: Signs and symptoms can include profuse sweating and weakness, nausea or vomiting, dizziness and headache, muscle cramps, and a rapid heartbeat and low blood pressure.

Heatstroke: Extremely high body temperature (above 103°F or 39.4°C), an altered mental state, along with confusion or irritability. Symptoms also include flushed, hot, and dry skin (lack of sweating), rapid breathing and racing heart rate, and even seizures or loss of consciousness.

Prevention and Treatment:

“You pretty much have to listen to your body,” Dr. Patch told 10 News Tampa Bay. “If you’re getting worn out, feeling too tired, you need to leave the [sun] exposure. That’s first and foremost. Get to some shade, wherever you can.”

To prevent heat-related illnesses, Dr. Patch highlights the following key measures:

  1. Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine intake as they can contribute to dehydration.
  2. Clothing and Sun Protection: Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing. Use sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat to shield yourself from the sun.
  3. Timing and Environment: Limit outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day, particularly between 10 am and 4 pm. Seek shade whenever possible and take frequent breaks in cool or air-conditioned areas.
  4. Awareness of Vulnerable Populations: Pay extra attention to children, the elderly, and those with chronic medical conditions, as they are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.
  5. Immediate Action: If someone shows signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke, it is essential to act quickly. Move them to a cool place, provide fluids if they are conscious, and seek medical attention at once in case of severe symptoms like confusion or loss of consciousness.

By being aware of the signs and symptoms and taking preventive measures, we can reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses and protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Remember, staying cool, hydrated, and informed is key to enjoying summer safely. Keep an eye out for the early warning signs, take proactive measures to prevent heat-related illnesses, and don't hesitate to seek medical help if needed.

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