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Heat stroke? Heat exhaustion? Signs to watch.

Summertime heat: Notoriously fun. Predictably dangerous. When temperatures rise, we always see more patients arrive at our clinics with heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, dehydration and severe sunburns. We’re happy to care for you, but our greatest wish is that you can avoid the need for medical help from the get-go. Follow these guidelines to stay healthy in the summer heat:

#1: Choose the shade: Make your own with a hat and a sun shirt or find an umbrella or shade tree. When it’s extremely hot, stay indoors until it cools.

#2: Stay hydrated with water: Skip the soda and alcohol and go straight for the classic h2o.

#3: Wear sunscreen: Whether you are fair or dark, 15 SPF (or higher) sunscreen is a must. Apply sunscreen every two hours, and more frequently if you get wet or sweat heavily.

Heat stroke or heat exhaustion?

Both can be serious. Learn how to recognize the symptoms so you can head to an urgent care and avoid serious illness. Signs of heat-related include but are not limited to:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Possible loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Skin that is red and hot (damp or dry)
  • Body temperature of 103°
  • Cold, pale, clammy skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness

We often see patients who have a heat-related illness even though they thought they were taking all the right steps. Pools, the beach and yardwork are common culprits for a sneak attack of over-heating, but living or working in a space that’s not air-conditioned can also be dangerous. Be aware of your setting and adapt your activity level accordingly. Keep in mind that young children and adults over 65 are at higher risk of heat-related illness.

Prickly heat?

The source of a rash can be hard to identify in the summer. Whether it’s too much chlorine, a creepy crawly or are a case of hives or a classic heat rash, rashes can be maddening. If cool compresses and over-the-counter treatments aren’t offering relief, head to one of our urgent care clinics to stop the itch!    

Don’t get crispy.

We all know to wear sunscreen and to choose the shade. And still, more than 1 in 3 of us manage to burn ourselves to a crisp each summer. Sunburns don’t typically send people to our urgent care clinics, but we see plenty of cases of dehydration that arrive with the sunburns. Avoid either scenario by choosing the shade and always wear sunscreen.

If you’re ever in doubt about what to do for someone suffering from heat-related illness, sunburn or a rash, find the closest SouthStar Urgent Care clinic near you. For more information about extreme heat and health, visit the CDC:

Reviewed by: Katie Sanne, FNP-C

Disclaimer: If you are in a situation that might be life-threatening, go straight to the emergency room or call 911. Situations like this include: Shortness of breath or breathing problems. Seizures or ‘blackouts’. Sudden vision problems. Confusion or dizziness. Heavy bleeding. Possible breaks that appear to be deformed or blue, or that include bleeding. Serious burns. The inability to speak or move. Head and neck injuries.