In the heat? Watch out for your health

It is important to stay on top of dehydration

WESTFIELD, Mass. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS) — While we may finally see some rain and lower temperatures today, by next week the heat will be right back on us—and with the heat comes risk.

Heat can bring about medical issues even if people are careful, so exercising caution while outside in the beating sun is especially important.

“People tend to not keep up with their water losses,” Dr. Murdoc Khaleghin, emergency room physician at Baystate Noble Hospital, said. “Bodies burn through moisture faster in heat and people underestimate how much we lose.”

This can cause what many people know as dehydration, and the onset can come in just a few hours. In elderly it can be even quicker.

In order to combat this, Khaleghin suggests that people drink as much as a glass of water an hour.

However, sometimes water alone is not enough. For those that are exercising or doing something particularly strenuous outside—such as riding your bike or walking on the Columbia Rail Trail—Khaleghin suggests also drinking fluids that are loaded with electrolytes. This may be Gatorade, Powerade or even Pedialyte, which he said is a great source for electrolytes.

Water-222x300A good way to know if you haven’t drank enough water is to simply notice that you’ve been in the sun for an extended period of time, Khaleghin said. Other symptoms may include dizziness, headache, dizziness or muscle pain.

It is important to stay on top of dehydration, because if given enough time it can develop into heat stroke.

Khaleghin said that heat stroke is when the body’s blood vessels continue to dilate and constrict to move fluid around to compensate for the lack of hydration. Eventually, the body becomes ineffective at this, which then reduces blood flow to the brain and causes altered mental status, which is where the term “heat stroke” originates, Khaleghin said.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, additional symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, seizures and coma. Fortunately, Khaleghin said that heat stroke is very uncommon at Baystate Noble. He said that he sees it perhaps once a year.

Other problems that come from the heat may not be because of exposure to it, but rather what else is out because of it.

Khaleghin said that the emergency room will see a fair amount of bug bites. And while it may seem foolish to go to an emergency room for a bug bite, Khalegin said that some bites do warrant a visit to the hospital.

As an example, if a tick bites someone then they are typically lodged under the skin. Often, people do not know how to properly tickremove the tick, and emergency room physicians are trained on how to remove the arachnid so that it does not leave any of its body behind, which can otherwise transmit disease. Additionally, with tick bites it is suggested that you begin a regimen of prophylactic antibiotics Khaleghin said, in order to help prevent any diseases like Lyme or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which the emergency room can also provide.

So, next time you are out and about in the sun, make sure to have water and be aware. Also, do not forget your first responders like police, fire and EMS, as they are susceptible to all this, too.


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