Know the signs of, and how to combat, heat-related illness

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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – As temperatures continue to increase over the summer months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants the public to be aware of the signs of heat-related illness, as well as what to do if you or someone you know may be impacted.

The CDC identifies five afflictions that can arise from overheating: heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburn, and heat rash.

Warning signs of heat stroke, according to the CDC include:

  • A body temperature of 103 degrees or higher
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
  • A fast, strong pulse
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

The CDC recommends calling 911 immediately, moving the person to a cool place, and applying cool clothes or giving a cool bath to lower the body temperature. The CDC says NOT to give the person anything to drink.

Precursors of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, clammy skin
  • A fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness

The CDC says to move to a cool place, loosen clothing, apply cool, wet cloths or take a cool bath, and sip water. Medical attention should be sought immediately if the person is throwing up, symptoms worsen, or symptoms last longer than an hour.

Signs of heat cramps include:

  • Heavy sweating during intense exercise
  • Muscle pain/spasms

If experiencing heat cramps, the CDC suggests stopping physical activity and moving to a cool place, drinking water or a sports drink, and waiting for cramps to stop before resuming physical activity. If cramps last longer than one hour, or the person is on a low-sodium diet or has heart problems, seek medical attention immediately.

The CDC describes signs of sunburn as painful, red, and warm skin and/or blisters on the skin. If sunburn occurs, the CDC recommends staying out of the sun until the sunburn heals, putting cool cloths on the sunburned area, moisturizing the area, and not breaking the blisters.

A heat rash is described as “red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin, usually on the neck, chest, groun, or in the elbow creases.” The CDC advises staying in a cool, dry place, keeping the rash dry, and using powder (like baby powder) to soothe the rash.


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