Beat the Heat: Know the Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stress
With summer in full swing, most of us are looking forward to a little fun in the sun. But warmer weather can have its pitfalls, and heat-related illness is more common than you might think. In the U.S., excessive heat exposure is responsible for hundreds of deaths, and thousands of injuries every year. And worldwide, heat-related deaths reach an annual average of over 5 million people.
While heat stress can be dangerous, it doesn’t have to keep from enjoying your summer. It’s all about awareness. Knowing the signs of heat stress can help you listen to your body and take preventative action to moderate your internal temperature. Here’s a list of what to look for, and a few steps you can take to avoid a meltdown. Literally.
Heat cramps are brief, painful muscle cramps that usually occur in the legs, arms, or abdomen, usually as a result of lost fluids and electrolytes. Though they’re considered to be the mildest form of heat-related illness, these cramps and spasms can often serve as a precursor to heat exhaustion.
Symptoms of Heat Cramps:
Painful cramps, especially in the legs
Flushed, moist skin
If you’re experiencing symptoms of heat cramps, the general recommendations are to rest and cool down, drink fluids, and gently massage and stretch the muscles. If symptoms don’t resolve after an hour, you’ll want to contact your doctor.
Heat exhaustion is often linked to dehydration. Exercise, physical activity, and even sunbathing will cause your internal body temperature to rise. To counteract this, your body utilizes the process of sweating to cool the skin and draw out heat. But sometimes sweating isn’t enough, and if your body can’t cool itself down, heat exhaustion sets in.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Pale, cold, clammy skin (possibly goose bumps when in the heat)
Weak, rapid pulse
Fatigue, faintness, or dizziness
Low blood pressure upon standing
If you’re experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion, the advice is to immediately discontinue physical activity, move to a cool place to rest, remove excess clothing, place cool, damp cloths over your skin, and drink cool sports drinks containing salt and sugar. If you begin vomiting, or your symptoms last longer than one hour, it’s recommended that you get medical help. It’s extremely important that you not try to ‘power through’ a heat-related illness, as it can lead to serious complications such as heatstroke.
Sometimes called sunstroke, heatstroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It can occur when your internal body temperature rises above 104°F (40°C) and requires immediate emergency treatment to prevent complications. Left untreated, heatstroke can result in damage to your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles, and can even result in death.
Symptoms of Heatstroke
Elevated body temperature (above 104°F or 40°C)
Hot, red, dry or moist skin
Strong, rapid pulse or heart rate
Altered mental state or behavior (such as confusion, agitation, irritability, slurred speech, or seizure)
Headache, nausea, or vomiting
Remember, heatstroke is an emergency situation that can cause severe damage and even death. If you’re experiencing heatstroke symptoms, call 911 immediately.
How to Avoid Heat-Related Illness & Injury
Drink up. Staying hydrated is crucial, especially on hot or humid days. Drink water throughout the day and replenish electrolytes with beverages such as sports drinks, coconut water, or electrolyte-infused water. Avoid fluids with caffeine, such as tea, coffee and cola, as these beverages tend to have dehydrating effects.
Take a break. Whether you’re exercising, playing sports, or just sitting by the pool, take frequent cool-down breaks to help regulate your internal temperature. Head inside to spend a few minutes in the air conditioning or find a cool, shady spot where you can relax.
Keep cool. For exercise, try to opt for the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Use ice packs, a spray bottle, or a cool cloth to help bring your body temperature down. Whenever possible, stay in the shade, or air conditioning.
Heat stress, or chronic heat exposure, has been shown to weaken the immune system. One of the best things you can do throughout these warm summer months is take ownership of your health. Eat a variety of hydrating fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, pineapple, grapefruit, cucumbers and lettuce. Get plenty of rest, moderate daily exercise, and remember to take your Brolico daily.
Immunity peaks at age 20 and declines with age. Try out our flagship product Brolico-Immunity support- to take ownership of your health.