by David Lozano, Earned Media Senior Manager, Banner Health
Summertime in Arizona – you can either love it or absolutely hate it. Let’s be realistic, it gets hot in this state. No matter if you’re a visitor, a part-time resident or even a native, we’re all susceptible to the extreme summer heat.
Unless you decide to stay locked up in your house during the summer months, sitting next to an air conditioner and sipping a cold drink, many of us will probably need to venture outdoors for one reason or another during the warmest months of the year.
A lot of people try to limit their outdoor activities during the summer months because it’s so hot, while others carry on as if the temperature outside was a comfortable 75 degrees Fahrenheit. But when the temperatures spike, we all need to remember the heat can cause all kinds of problems with our health if we’re not careful.
Let’s talk about the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Both conditions are related to heat, but heat stroke can be more serious, and even deadly, if not taken seriously. While symptoms of heat exhaustion are not as severe, people who suffer from heat exhaustion may still need to seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen over time.
Heat stroke can develop as a result of heat exhaustion. It’s important to note both conditions can share the same symptoms such as dizziness, headache and nausea.
“People can start out with heat cramps or exhaustion, and their symptoms can progressively get worse if they’re not careful,” said Frank LoVecchio, DO, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Banner Casa Grande Medical Center. “With heat exhaustion, the person may be dehydrated and suffering from severe muscle cramps. It’s important to get the person hydrated and moved to a cool place where his or her body can cool down and start to recover. But if the person convulses, loses consciousness or has a temperature spike, then that person may be in the stages of developing heat stroke. At this point, the person would need to seek immediate medical treatment.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these groups of people are most vulnerable to heat-related injuries:
- Older adults (65-years and older)
- Infants and children
- People with chronic medical conditions, such as heart conditions or obesity
- Low income (homeless or those who can’t afford air conditioning)
- Outdoor workers
Every year, Banner Health hospitals (especially those in Arizona) treat people suffering from some form of heat-related illness. Banner Casa Grande’s Emergency Department and Banner Urgent Care in Casa Grande treat the symptoms associated with many of these heat-related illnesses.
Dr. LoVecchio said, “If you enjoy being outside during the hot summer months, the most important things people can do to prevent from getting heat stroke or heat exhaustion include drinking plenty of fluids, wearing loose-fitting clothes and (of course) limiting their time outdoors or staying in the shade as much as possible. The other important thing to remember is that people can develop other heat-related conditions such as cramps, heat rash and sunburns. The summer heat in Arizona is serious, and we need to make sure we protect ourselves from becoming a victim. Regardless of how healthy you are or how much water you drink, if your body is telling you that you are developing some type of heat-related illness, you need to listen to it and prevent things from getting worse.”