3 Ways the Heat Can Get You
By Kate Gardner
It is hot out there. According to NBC, July 2019 is set to go down in history as the hottest month ever recorded (with records starting in 1880). News outlets across the U.S. are already reporting injuries and illnesses due to the heat. Read on to learn about common heat-related health problems and their symptoms.
Have you ever been out in the heat and started to feel your muscles spasm and cramp? Heat cramps can occur during exercise or exposure to heat. They are most likely due to an electrolyte imbalance that happens when you sweat out sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Symptoms include:
- Brief, painful muscle spasms
- Spasms that are typically in big muscle groups, like the calves, thighs, and shoulders
- Spasms that go away on their own
If you experience heat cramps, stop what you're doing and take a break. Electrolyte drinks can also help.
Heat cramps may be the first symptom of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion occurs when your body's internal temperature rises in response to heat and heavy activity. Symptoms of heat exhaustion are:
- Heavy sweating
- Cool skin and goosebumps, even though it's hot out
- Faintness and dizziness
- Low blood pressure when you stand up
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea and headache
- Weak, rapid pulse
When heat exhaustion hits, it's important to head somewhere cool and let your body temperature go back down.
If you don't manage heat exhaustion, it can become a life-threatening problem called heatstroke. Heatstroke happens when your body stays too hot for too long. Heatstroke is the most serious of the heat-related health issues and if left untreated it can cause permanent damage to the brain and other organs and even death. Heatstroke's signs and symptoms are:
- A high body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Altered mental state, including confusion, agitation, and slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid breathing
- Fast heart rate
If someone is showing symptoms of heatstroke, immediately take them somewhere cooler and call 911. Help bring their internal temperature down by placing them in a cool bath or shower, putting ice packs on them, or misting them with cool water. If you place them in a tub, make sure not to leave them alone, especially if they are showing signs of confusion.
There is no magic number when it comes to figuring out how hot is too hot for you. While the National Weather Service starts to recommend taking precautions when the heat index hits 100 degrees Fahrenheit, heat-related illnesses can happen before that.
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in San Antonio, Tex.