By Derek Fritz
SPRING HILL, Florida – Temperatures across the United States are rising, and so are incidents of heat exhaustion. In fact, between 2016 and 2021, the number of patients diagnosed with heat exhaustion between the months of May and September rose by 53 percent.
Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt. Symptoms include dizziness, headache, nausea, and muscle cramps, and the condition is more likely to affect the elderly, those with high blood pressure, and people who work in a hot environment, according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). If heat exhaustion is left untreated, it can cause heat stroke, which can lead to permanent disability or death.
“We spend more time outside in the summer, whether that’s working, playing, or lounging around, which increases the risk of excessive heat exposure and exhaustion,” says Derek Fritz, D.O. Primary Care Physician for Bravera Primary Care. “By understanding the symptoms of heat exhaustion and how to prevent it, you can stay safe and healthy all summer long.
To help prevent heat exhaustion, Dr. Fritz recommends the following tips:
● Cover up: When outside, wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing, hats, sunglasses, and broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 15 (but 30 to 50 SPF is better) to protect against sunburn, which affects the body’s ability to cool down.
● Keep cool: When the temperature is up, take cool showers, go swimming, or apply wet towels on the neck or forehead to help lower body temperature.
● Hydrate: Drink fluids, especially water, throughout the day to stay hydrated. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine, which can contribute to dehydration.
● Stay in the shade: Stay in shaded areas or indoors during the hottest parts of the day, which are usually between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
● Rest often: If working outside or participating in outdoor activities, make it a point to take regular breaks to cool down in a shaded area where you can rest and rehydrate.
“Spending time outside, enjoying the sunshine and warm weather is why so many people love the summer, but it can be dangerous without the proper precautions. If you or a loved one experience symptoms of heat exhaustion, and you can’t cool down, it’s time to seek medical care,” says Dr. Fritz.
For more information on heat safety and preventive measures, please visit BraveraHealth.com.