Hot Summer Days Can Make Sick People Sicker
Extreme heat can affect anyone, but you don't have to become a victim.
Medical Conditions and Heat Stroke continued...
Signs of Heat-Related Illness
It's important to know the signs of trouble. Excessive heat can
first cause heat exhaustion -- especially in people who are working or
exercising outside. The symptoms include:
- Dizziness or fainting
- Heavy sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Cold or clammy skin
- Rapid heartbeat
If you have these symptoms, get out of the heat, drink water,
juice or sports drinks (unless your doctor tells you otherwise), and get
If it isn't treated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke,
which is an emergency. Heat stroke also develops in people who aren't being
physically active but are simply in a hot environment. The signs of heat stroke
- Rapid heartbeat
- Confusion or delirium
- Warm, dry skin (because the body is no longer able to sweat)
- Fever of greater than 104 degrees
- Severe headaches
- Seizure or muscle twitching
Remember, heat stroke needs immediate attention. Call 911.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke aren't the only risks for
people with pre-existing medical conditions. For entirely different reasons,
some other conditions are exacerbated by the hot weather of the summer. Some
Asthma. Heat doesn't make asthma worse, at least not
directly. But people with asthma need to be especially careful in summer
months, since the air can be filled with all sorts of triggers. Allergens like
molds and pollens drift in the wind. Irritants, such as environmental
pollution, can hang in the air on hot, humid days and make life miserable for
people with asthma. These environmental pollutants can cause plants and molds
to boost pollen and spore production. The more pollen in the air the more
likely it is to worsen allergic diseases such as asthma. In addition, some
medications used to treat asthma may make it harder to sweat, and thus
interfere with the body's natural cooling process.
Multiple Sclerosis. Many people with MS find their
symptoms are aggravated by heat. In fact, one of the oldest tests for MS was to
put a person suspected of having the disease in a hot bath. If neurological
symptoms developed, the doctor made his diagnosis. Anyone with MS should take
extra precautions to stay cool.
Lupus. About 70% of people with lupus find that exposure
to sunlight can cause a flare-up of symptoms, including skin rashes, fatigue,
and joint pain. So make sure to cover yourself with long pants and sleeves,
wear a hat, and use sunscreen.