Published: June 7, 2023
Athletes, Babies, Elderly - Know the Signs of Heat-related Illnesses
Summer fun is upon us but it also comes with high temperatures. Did you know, that when working or playing in the heat, you should drink 1 cup (8 ounces) of water every 15–20 minutes? Be careful as the temperatures start to climb when you are working, exercising (or playing sports) outdoors this summer.
It can happen fast: who’s at risk?
- Athletes, military personnel, and others who work outdoors, or undertake strenuous activities in hot weather
- Adults 65 and older, as older adults are at a greater risk for dehydration
- Heat rash – or sometimes called prickly heat, feels like a stinging rash that develops when you’re hot and sweaty. It’s most likely to show up in areas where sweat gets trapped, like inside your elbows and behind your knees.
- Heat cramps – can happen when you sweat so profusely that your body loses so much salt that you can get painful muscles in your arms or legs. If you start to have a cramp, find a way to cool your body and drink plenty of water.
- Heat edema – swelling in your ankles and feet when you get hot. Elevating your legs can help.
- Heat exhaustion – could be your body can’t keep itself cool. You may feel dizzy, weak, uncoordinated, and nauseated. Your skin might feel cold and clammy, and you may have a rapid pulse. If this happens, drink plenty of water and rest in a cool place (find shade if you are outdoors). If you’re not careful, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.
- Heat stroke – can be a life-threatening form of hyperthermia that occurs when your body temperature reaches 104° Fahrenheit or more. Heat stroke can lead to confusion, fainting, staggering, strange behavior, or dry, flushed skin. Heat stroke is a medical emergency, so if you suspect it, call 911 or go to a nearby hospital ER.
For any heat-related health concerns
- Cool their skin – spray/dab with cool water, use a soft ice-pack on the head/neck/arms
- Move to a shaded, cool area and remove any excess clothing
- Drink cool water; a sports or rehydration drink
Remember: Always keep plenty of water at hand, wear hats, and find shade when the temperatures are high. And don’t leave anyone (or pets) in the car.
Always call 911 if you are having a medical emergency.
Visit clevelandclinic.org for more information on heat safety.