Heat Health Hazards

Heat Health Hazards

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - The forecast calls for some hot summer weather. It's not triple digits yet but this heat needs to be taken seriously in terms of your health. The risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke increases quickly in hot and humid conditions.

Today is National Hydration Day and a good time to remind Texomans that summer has just begun  here in Texas and it's only going to get hotter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds about 300 people die every year in the U.S. of heat-related illnesses and most of these deaths could be avoided if people better understood the dangers.

Experts say not getting enough fluids is the main reason why people get heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

"It's dehydration and overheating. You're losing your electrolytes and becoming dehydrated. Your body temperature is
rising as affected by your exercise and the air temperature outside."

After dehydration comes heat cramps and then heat exhaustion.

"Heat exhaustion has multiple symptoms. Someone might get one symptom or they might get 10 symptoms. It can start out with fatigue, headache and vomiting."

Other symptoms include dizziness, disorientation, muscle cramps and profuse sweating. If this happens experts say to give the person fluids - as much water as they can keep down and sports drinks in moderation. They advise staying away from caffeine and alcohol.

The Texas Heart Institute says children, people with high blood pressure and the elderly are especially at risk for heat exhaustion.

Officials at the Red Cross say a person can go from heat exhaustion to heat stroke in as little as 20 minutes.

"Heat stroke is a medical emergency because you're starting to lose consciousness. Your body is shutting down."

Symptoms include hot, dry, red or flushed skin, fatigue, unconsciousness or disorientation. In that case, the person should be taken to the hospital immediately.

Doctors say 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration. They fall short of drinking the daily 10 cups of water recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Experts in the athletic department at MSU recommend drinking the equivalent of half your body weight in ounces of water per day.

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