Saturday, October 1, 2022

Severe heat illness: prevention, symptoms, treatment

With climate change causing ever more intense heat, Californians will need to prepare for temperature extremes just as they do for earthquakes and other disasters.

What you need to know about heat-related illnesses? How can they be detected, treated and prevented?

We looked for answers from experts studying climate change and its impact on the human body. Among them are Dr. Bad Cooper, professor of kinesiology at the University of Georgia; Kim Knowlton, Senior Fellow, Natural Resources Defense Council; Andrew Grundstein, professor at the University of Georgia; Jaime Madrigano, political researcher, Rand Corp .; and Larry Kalkstein, a scientist in the Department of Applied Climatology.

It’s not just air temperature. Other factors should be considered:

Humidity: Hot, sticky air interferes with the natural cooling of your body because the humid atmosphere prevents sweat from evaporating as easily, making you feel warmer. If the humidity is lower, you are less likely to get heat sickness.

Wind speed, sun angle, cloudiness: All of these can increase or decrease the risk of the disease. This is why researchers do not rely on the typical heat index to measure the likelihood of heat-related illnesses on a given day, Grundstein said. Instead, they use ball wet bulb temperaturewhich takes into account temperature, humidity and other factors.

Acclimatization: It is important to give your body the ability to adapt to its environment, especially if you are exercising. If you’re not used to running in the sun, Grundstein said, it might not be worth starting with a 5K run. Or, if you’re not used to wearing heavy gear in 100-degree heat, consider postponing a community soccer game.

Weight, lifestyle, medications, hydration: Anything can affect a person’s response to heat, Knowlton said.

A man in a baseball cap sits in the shade of a tree

North Hollywood, 94 ° F – Orland Cabrera wants a break from the heat in June. Even with air conditioning, it was too hot in his house, so he took refuge in a local park.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times) #

Yes, but the stages of the disease are not necessarily chronological. Severe symptoms can appear with little or no warning, Cooper said. Here are the different stages, from the easiest to the most severe:

Exercise-related seizures: A common thing for people involved in outdoor activities.

  • Symptoms: Leg cramps, fever, and signs of dehydration. “Don’t trust your thirst as an indicator of your hydration level,” Cooper said. Instead, look at the color of your urine. Medium to dark yellow color is a sign of dehydration; Light to clear urine, you’re probably fine.
  • Care: Stop exercising and get out of the sun. Drink an electrolyte sports drink. Stretch later in the afternoon. Take your time returning to the activities you were doing.

Heat syncope: This is more serious than cramps and can lead to internal damage.

  • Symptoms: Dizziness, feeling of lightheadedness, skin redness, increased internal temperature.
  • Care: Get to a cool place. Raise your legs to improve blood flow to your heart. Place a cool compress in your groin or underarms. Due to the aggravation of these symptoms, you need to see your doctor immediately and get fluids through an IV, according to Cooper.

Heat generation: To do this, Cooper said you need to call 911 for immediate medical attention.

  • Symptoms: Core body temperature over 104 degrees, lethargy, dizziness, inability to communicate, headache, cognitive decline, fainting and profuse sweating.
  • Care: Follow directions for heat fainting and remove excess clothing or equipment. Wet a towel and wrap it around your torso. Call 911.

Heatstroke: Heatstroke, the most serious of all heat-related illnesses, is urgently needed and requires immediate treatment.

  • Symptoms: The temperature inside the body is more than 104 degrees, loss of consciousness and possibly dry skin. No sweat because your natural cooling system is compromised.
  • Care: Get to a cool place and call 911.
People queue up

Northridge, 98 ° F – Students and their parents await testing for COVID-19 at Northridge High School in August.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times) #

What are the consequences of prolonged heat exposure?

Long-term effects can include “kidney damage, long-term neurological effects, headaches, blurred vision, heart disease, chest pain, an increased risk of heart attack, and an overall increased risk of premature mortality that persists for many years,” Knowlton said.

What can you do to stay safe and healthy?

As the world becomes warmer, heatwaves are expected to increase in duration and intensity. But there are things you can and shouldn’t do to keep yourself and your family healthy and safe.

6-year-old Mia B. Mendes (foreground) and her 16-year-old aunt Alejandra Oropeza relax in a swimming lake.

Lake View Terrace 98 ° F – Mia B. Mendes (left) and her aunt Alejandra Oropeza relax in a bathing lake at the Hansen Dam Aquatic Center in August.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times) #

Make: Drink more water than usual.

Make: If you cannot cool down at home, contact one of the district cooling centers.

Make: Visit the public library for a few hours to cool off.

Make: Watch a movie in the cinema or go to the mall for a break from the heat.

Make: If possible, take cold showers and baths throughout the day.

Make: Point the fan towards the window to force hot air out of your home.

Do not do that: “Point the fan directly at you in a hot or unconditioned home,” said Kalkstein, who has studied heat deaths in California and other states. This can have the unintended effect of dehydration more quickly.

Do not do that: Run your air conditioner (if you have one) all day, especially if the flexibility warning is given.

Woman handing popsicle to shirtless man

Downtown Los Angeles, 92 ° F – Athena Haley, executive director of Love My Neighbor, gives ice cream to John “Slim” Gates, who is homeless, during a sleigh convention in August.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times) #

What can you do to help your family and neighbors?

Don’t just worry about yourself. Madrigano suggests meeting the most vulnerable people you know during extreme heat. They can be elderly people, people with disabilities and homeless… Call neighbors or family members and see how they are doing. Do they need anything? Encourage them to bring water or go for groceries so they don’t lose their cool.

Homeless people are extremely vulnerable during extreme heat. Make the decision of Water Drop LA to set aside 20 minutes of your day to distribute frozen water bottles to neighbors without a home. Reach out to organizations working with the informal community to find out what their needs are and how you can help.

Mark Washington, 45, drinks water given to him by the Midnight Mission team.

Downtown Los Angeles, 92 ° F – Mark Washington drinks from a bottle of water donated by Midnight Mission outreach workers on a sled on August 12, 2021.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times) #

Try to keep an open tab on your phone showing the location of the district’s cooling centers and public libraries so you can offer directions to those in need.

Ensuring safety and health should be a community concern, Madrigano said. She encourages Angelenos to reach out to vulnerable neighbors, “be kind,” and help where possible.

Nation World News Desk
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