Hot Florida summers mean an increased risk of heat-related health emergencies. There are a few different types of heat-related conditions that can strike as temperatures rise, and most require emergency medical treatment. Practice heat smarts by avoiding activity during the hottest part of the day and being aware of these symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
Heat cramps are caused by an electrolyte imbalance triggered by excess sweating. When you sweat, excess salt builds up in your body, particularly if you don’t replenish lost fluid with water. In extreme heat conditions, the opposite may occur, and you may actually start to lose sodium, creating a further imbalance. This imbalance of electrolytes can cause muscle cramping. Sometimes, drinking plenty of water or drinking a sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes relieves heat cramps. However, if the symptoms persist, get emergency medical care, as electrolyte imbalances can also be cause cardiac problems.
If you begin to feel faint, nauseous, dizzy, or giddy when out in the heat, you could be suffering from heat exhaustion. Extreme thirst, weakness, and vertigo are also symptoms. In some cases, people with heat exhaustion lose consciousness. In some cases, getting into the shade and drinking fluids is enough to correct heat exhaustion, but be vigilant. If symptoms do not clear up, seek emergency medical care.
Heat stroke is the most serious of all heat-related disorders. With heat stroke, your internal temperature regulation fails, allowing your body temperature rises to dangerously high levels. Signs of heat stroke include irrational behavior, lack of sweating, hot skin, and convulsions. Loss of consciousness is also possible. Emergency medical care is essential for someone suffering from heat stroke.
Are you or someone you know experiencing symptoms of a heat-related illness? Help is available at the emergency department of Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg. Our emergency room also provides stroke care, cardiac care, and much more. Get answers to all of your questions about services by calling our Pinellas County hospital at (888) 598-9586.