Five Fast Facts About Heat-Related Illnesses

Heat-related illnesses are the most dangerous weather-related health conditions during the summer months, with heat-related deaths peaking in July and August. In fact, each year, heat waves result in more fatalities in the U.S. than tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes combined. Here’s what you need to know about these serious illnesses.

1) Heat-Related Illnesses Range from Mild to Life-Threatening.

Heat-related illnesses include heat rash, heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting), heat exhaustion and heat stroke. While conditions like heat rash are rarely dangerous, if significant heat-related illnesses aren’t treated immediately, they can result in significant injury to patients’ organs, and even lead to their death.

2) There Are Several Risk Factors for Heat-Related Illnesses.

Heat-related illnesses are most likely to occur in July and August, when temperatures in the U.S. reach their peak. Also, 43% of heat-related illnesses occur in just three states: California, Texas and Arizona. The very young, the elderly and people with chronic health conditions are most susceptible to heat-related illnesses, since their bodies aren’t able to properly regulate their internal temperature.

3) Heat-Related Illnesses Are Preventable.

Between 600-700 people die every year from heat-related illnesses in the U.S., which is tragic because these deaths are entirely preventable. Heat-related illnesses can be prevented by properly cooling your home, avoiding sun exposure during peak temperatures (usually 12 p.m. - 3 p.m.), drinking plenty of water, wearing loose-fitting clothing, and never leaving children alone in the car.

4) It’s Important to Know the Signs And Symptoms of Heat-Related Illnesses.

The signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses include a rapid heart rate, flushed skin, headaches, thirst, muscle cramps, dry mouth, elevated temperature, dizziness and nausea. In extreme cases, heat-related illnesses can cause confusion, seizures and loss of consciousness.

5) Heat-Related Illnesses Require Urgent Medical Attention.

While many cases of heat-related illnesses can be prevented if you take the recommended precautions, it’s also important to remember that if you or someone you know does develop the symptoms of a heat-related illness, it’s imperative to seek immediate medical attention. Most cases of heat-related illnesses can be reversed with I.V. hydration and rapid core cooling if patients receive medical attention soon enough.

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