The most serious form of heat illness, heat stroke, presents as high body temperature, lack of sweating, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, racing heart rate, headache, confusion, muscles cramps, weakness and unconsciousness. Without immediate medical attention, heat stroke can be fatal. Fortunately, preventing heat stroke is a breeze with our easy tips.
Protect yourself from the sun
- Wear loose-fitting and lightweight clothing that will allow your body to sweat and cool itself properly. Tight clothing can trap sweat and body heat, causing you to overheat.
- Use sunscreen. Sunburn prevents your body from properly cooling itself because it reduces your ability to sweat. Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before exposure to the sun. Reapply after swimming or vigorous exercise.
- Wear protective clothing, including long sleeves, pants and a hat. Covering up your body with clothing can prevent sunburn as well.
- Avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day. If possible, stay inside between 10 am and 4 pm to avoid the sun at its most powerful. If you must be outside during the afternoon, seek shade and take it easy when possible.
- Avoid alcoholic, sugary and caffeinated drinks. Alcohol, sugar and caffeine dehydrate and mitigate the hydrating effect of whatever you're drinking. If you are dehydrated, you are at an increased risk of suffering from a heat stroke.
- Drink plain water. Although sports drinks claim to hydrate you better, drinking water is your best bet. Drink cool, but not freezing cold, water. Water that is too cold can cause cramps and is absorbed more slowly.
- Check with your doctor if you are taking certain medications such as vasoconstrictors, beta blockers, diuretics, antidepressants, antipsychotics or stimulants. These types of medicines can reduce your body's ability to cool itself properly, putting you at an increased risk for heat stroke.
- Take extra precautions if you have suffer from medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or obesity. These health problems limit your body's ability to maintain its temperature properly.
If someone you know is exhibiting signs of a heat stroke, immediately head to an Atlanta-area emergency room for medical assistance.