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Jul. 20, 2021

By: Paul Kostamo, M.D.

If you’re planning to spend extended time outside during the 2021 summer season, beware the dangers of the summer heat.

Types of heat-related illnesses

• Heat Rash (Prickly Heat): When the skin has trouble getting rid of sweat, you can experience a range of symptoms from blisters to red lumps that cause intense itchy sensations.

• Heat cramps: Hot weather can cause involuntary, intermittent spams of the muscle due electrolyte imbalances and mild dehydration. This usually happens when an individual is stressed in a hot environment during a physical activity.

• Heat exhaustion: This usually requires emergency attention. Heat exhaustion is caused by dehydration. Symptoms include excessive sweating, headache, weakness, nausea, rapid heartbeat and vomiting.

• Heat Stroke: When the body overheats to 100 degrees or more, heat stroke often occurs. Symptoms include lack of sweating, nausea, rapid heartbeat and vomiting.

Who’s most at risk?

You’re most at risk when you are younger than 40 or older than 65. During these age ranges, a person’s body is less able to cope with high temperatures and more likely to be living with conditions that are exacerbated by hot weather. People who are obese are also more likely to suffer from heat-related illnesses because body fat acts as an insulator.

How to prevent heat-related illness

• Drinking 24 to 32 ounces of fluids every two hours.

• Wear fabrics that are light and wick away moisture. and are light are ideal to wear and very efficient compared to cotton that holds moisture and evaporates slowly.

• Wear a large, wide-brimmed hat to block harsh ultraviolet rays.

• Take periodic breaks from the heat and stay in the shade.

When planning to take on the summer with full force, ensure you protect yourself from heat-related illnesses. Be well-prepared and well-equipped to handle the long, hot summer days ahead.

Paul Kostamo, M.D. received his medical degree and completed his residency in Family Medicine at The University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. He practices at WellMed at Kenwood in Saint Petersburg, Florida.

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