Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Heat and Heat stroke....Stay Hydrated!

Lets Beat the Heat Guys!

There are between 175 and 1250 heat deaths each year in the United States,imagine the number in humid African countries?Nigeria to be precise. Yes! heat does kill and it happens Worldwide! Most of these deaths result from a general lack of knowledge about how and when heat injuries occur and how they should be treated.

The heat is on!!!
Our bodies produce and maintain heat, even in excessively hot conditions. Our natural method for cooling off is sweat, which is best evaporated by low humidity and wind. But stagnant, humid air makes sweating (cooling) less effective. As our cooling sytem begins to fail, our body (much like a car) begins to overheat, which can lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke is the most serious of heat illnesses and is caused by a body temperature of 105° F or more, where your bodily cooling process fails; mental impairment and death can result. Most cases occur without warning, and a few cases progress from lesser heat injuries, such as heat exhaustion. The classic signs (fever, sluggishness, confusion, and hot and dry skin) may not be present. Heat stroke can damage vital organs, such as the liver, kidneys, and brain.

There are two categories of heat stroke: classic heat stroke and exertional heat stroke. Classic heat stroke mostly affects the elderly, chronically ill, those who do not exercise, and people taking certain medications (such as psychiatric drugs, decongestants, some blood pressure pills, diuretics, and antihistamines). This type of heat stroke is seen during heat waves in unaccustomed areas.

Exertional heat stroke occurs mostly in younger individuals who are strenuously exercising or working in hot conditions. This type of heat stroke results from increased heat production and may cause organ damage.

Preventing heat injuries
Most heat injuries can be prevented by knowing the risk factors. They include dehydration, heavy clothing, prolonged exertion (athletics, military exercises, outdoor work), poor conditioning, lack of adaptation, obesity, sleep deprivation, alcohol, poor living conditions, aging, chronic (long-lasting) disease, saunas, and some medications. A major risk factor is a prior heat stroke, which makes you more susceptible to having another one.

Dehydration is avoided by drinking cool water before and during heat exposure (11/2 to 2 cups before, then 1 cup every 20 minutes during heat exposure). Sports drinks that are too sweet, which can interfere with fluid absorption, may be diluted to half strength by adding water. Work and rest cycles can prevent overexertion. During summer sport training programs, the hydration of athletes should be monitored with practice weigh-ins and weigh-outs; athletes who have lost excess water weight (2-3% of body weight) are at higher risk for a heat injury. Despite popular belief, salt tablets should be avoided. Clothing should be loose, breathable, and light in color, and activities should be planned for cooler morning or evening hours whenever possible.

Acclimatization through gradual, daily exposure to heat reduces most forms of heat illness. This natural adaptation takes 10 to 14 days and allows your body to cool off more efficiently. The effects are not permanent, however, and modest continued exposure is needed to maintain them.

Minor heat illnesses, such as heat cramps (cramps in large working muscles), heat edema (swollen feet or ankles), and heat syncope (fainting), do not cause lasting effects and are usually avoided by limiting exposure and becoming acclimatized.

Heat exhaustion
Heat exhaustion, although not as dangerous as heat stroke, is a serious injury. It can progress to heat stroke if not treated immediately. Heat exhaustion itself does not cause damage to vital organs, nor does it cause mental impairment. The body temperature of someone suffering from heat exhaustion is less than 102°F. Symptoms include sweating, headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, muscle weakness, cramps, and blurry vision. Dehydration and chronic salt depletion can cause this illness.

How do I treat heat exhaustion?
First, the victim is removed from the hot environment. Then, the victim is cooled off, as with heat stroke. Finally, fluids must be replenished.

Sun illnesses
Our sun emits radiation, and fortunately most harmful radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere. Of the remaining radiation, ultraviolet radiation (UVR) causes the most problems. UVR levels are highest during summer months, especially between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. UVR passes through clouds, even causing sunburn on a cloudy day. Environmental factors such as snow, sand, and water reflect UVR and can increase exposure.

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