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Overcome by the heat: What to do when heat-related illnesses strike

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious conditions that can happen to anyone when the temperature and humidity soar. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams highlights signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and gives tips from experts on what to do if they happen.

Sun and palm trees
Sometimes weather in the Upper Midwest feels like the tropics. Be careful. Extreme temperatures can be dangerous.
Viv Williams
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ROCHESTER, Minn. — When temperatures skyrocket and the humidity soars, your risk of developing heat-related illnesses also rises. Kids under 2, adults over 65 and people with underlying health conditions are at greatest risk, but everyone should be vigilant and know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which is a medical emergency.

And you need to know what to do if you suspect someone you're with is getting into hot weather health trouble.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website has great information about heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The list below outlines some of the CDC material.

Heat rash

  • Signs and symptoms: Bunches of red bumps of the skin that look like pimples.
  • What to do: Stay in a cool, dry place. Keep the rash dry. Use baby powder.

Heat cramps

  • Signs and symptoms: Intense sweating and muscle cramps while exercising.
  • What to do: Stop physical activity, move to a cool place, drink water and don't resume activities until the cramps go away.
  • Seek medical care if: the cramps don't go away or if you have heart issues.

Heat exhaustion

  • Signs and symptoms: Heavy sweating, clammy skin, fast pulse, nausea or vomiting, weakness, tiredness, dizziness and passing out.
  • What to do: Get to a cool place, loosen clothes, sip water, cover body in cool damp cloths or take a bath or shower.
  • Seek medical care if: symptoms worsen or last longer than an hour, you're throwing up.

Heat stroke — a medical emergency

  • Signs and symptoms: High body temperature (above 103 degrees), red skin that's hot and dry or damp, fast pulse, dizziness, confusion, nausea and passing out.
  • What to do: Call 911, move person to a cool place, lower person's body temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath, do not give anything to drink.

If at any time you're concerned that someone may be suffering from a heat-related illness and you're not sure what to do, contact your health care provider.

MORE HEALTH FUSION:
The aftermath of reports of active shooters at several Minnesota schools has increased anxiety levels for some students and parents. Even though the situation was a hoax, people worry about the real thing. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams talks to the director of clinical services at Zumbro Valley Health Center about how parents can help their kids cope.

Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

Opinion by Viv Williams
Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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