ADPH warns about heat-related illnesses

Updated: Jul. 14, 2017 at 11:39 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Public Health is advising the public to adjust their activities, and be alert regarding heat-related illnesses.

According to the ADPH, a heat-related illness occurs when the body's temperature control system is overloaded. Heatstroke or sunstroke is the most serious heat-related illness. The body's temperature rises quickly, the sweating functions fail, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in just 10 to 15 minutes.

Heatstroke can cause permanent injury or death, so knowing the warning signs could save a life, ADPH officials say.

Signs include:

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)

  • Rapid, strong pulse

  • Throbbing headache

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Confusion

  • Unconsciousness

People with heart problems, poor circulation, diabetes, a previous stroke or obesity are at greater risk of becoming sick in hot weather, according to ADPH. The risk of heat-related illness may be higher for people taking medications for high blood pressure, nervousness or depression.

ADPH offers the following preventive measures that everyone can take.

  • Drink more fluids and avoid alcohol and caffeine

  • Stay in air-conditioned rooms and out of the sun when temperatures are extreme (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • If you work outside, take breaks to cool off and hydrate

  • Wear wide-brimmed hats and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing

  • Apply sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher)

  • Check on elderly relatives, neighbors, and friends

  • Make sure pets have plenty of water to drink and shade to cool off in

  • Never leave pets or people in a parked vehicle

According to the ADPH's Center for Health Statistics, the number of health-related deaths in 2011 was seven and in 2016 it was 12. If heatstroke is suspected, immediately call 911. Make sure to get the person to a shady area, and try to cool the person's body temperature with cool water or a fan.

"Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency," said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mary McIntyre. "A person with heat stroke is likely to be unconscious or unresponsive, so he or she cannot safely consume any liquids. Under no circumstance should you give any alcohol to a person with heat stroke or any heat-related illness."

This information was provided by the ADPH. For more information visit the ADPH website.

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