How to handle the heat and looking for heat-related illnesses

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CHARLESTON, S.C (WCBD) – With a heat wave hitting the Lowcountry, physicians are worried about the public falling ill from the high-temperatures.

Hydrating before, during, and after being outside, that’s what Dr. Kenneth Perry with Trident Health said will assist the most with avoiding a heat-related illness. 

Really understanding that it’s not just waiting until you’re thirsty or until you feel the elements. This is something you have to stay ahead of. Once you get behind and your body becomes a little dehydrated your body begins getting closer and closer to that inability to regulate your own body heat. And then heat exhaustion can go to heat stroke and really it becomes a much more concerning thing at that point. 

Dr. Kenneth Perry, Trident Health 

Dr. Perry said that best form of hydration comes from water. Drinks with salt, sugar, and electrolytes can prove to assist with hydration as they help to retain that water.

As for if wearing a face covering can add to falling ill from the high temperatures? Dr. Perry said the main issue he sees with masks is that many are not hydrating themselves as much with them on. Additionally, it could feel as if you’re over-heating more but that’s just due to certain receptors in your body.

We all know that people who are all over social media say that with certain health conditions—they cannot wear a mask. I have not seen any data to support that says they cannot wear it. I do know that it becomes really uncomfortable. We do have receptors in the nerve endings of our face that when it feels air going by, to actually feels much easier to breathe. 

Dr. Kenneth Perry, Trident Health 

Dr. Perry made sure to note that if you typically seek treatment for heat exhaustion in the ER—it’s still safe to do so, even with COVID-19 still active. He said what they are really trying to let people know is that all of the day-to-day medical emergencies should absolutely still need to come to the emergency department. Dr. Perry also added that, “anecdotally, recently I’ve  seen patients whose temperature is in the 103, 104, 105 range and it’s not from infection—it’s actually from the elements.”

Signs of heat exhaustion are typically cold skin with heavy perspiration or sweat, faintness, fatigue, weak or rapid pulse, low blood pressure and muscle cramps. As for heat strokes, a high body temperature ranging around 104 degree Fahrenheit, a lack of perspiration or sweat, delirium or slurred speech, rapid breathing and heat rate.

The best time to seek medical treatment if you’re experiencing signs or symptoms of a heat stroke or exhaustion is when you start to feel uncomfortable—faint, or you cannot get your body temperature down.

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