The Allegheny County Health Department is warning that the extreme heat and humidity forecast for the next few days can pose serious health problems for the elderly, infants and children up to the age of four, the overweight, people who work or exercise outdoors, and people with heart or respiratory problems.
Heat-related illness occurs when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. The body normally cools itself by sweating, but sometimes this cooling mechanism breaks down and the body temperature rises rapidly, triggering heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt contained in sweat. Warning signs include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting. Seek medical attention immediately, if the symptoms are severe or if the person has heart problems or high blood pressure. Otherwise, help the victim cool off, and seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.
Heat stroke, a more serious and potentially life-threatening condition, occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature and the sweating mechanism fails. Warning signs may include an extremely high body temperature (above 103F); red, hot and dry skin, due to no sweating; a rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea, confusion; and unconsciousness. Death or permanent disability may result without emergency treatment. Cool the victim rapidly by any means available until paramedics arrive.
These precautions are recommended to minimize the risk of heat-related illness:
Tuesday, July 19, 2011