Heat Related Illnesses (cont.)
Other heat-related health problems
usually affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous
This sweating depletes the body's salt and moisture. The low salt
level in the
muscles causes painful cramps. Heat cramps may be a symptom of
Recognizing Heat Cramps
Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms - usually in the abdomen,
legs - that may occur in association with strenuous activity. If you
problems or are on a low sodium diet, get medical attention for heat
What to Do
If medical attention is not necessary, take these steps:
- Stop all activity, and sit quietly in a cool place.
- Drink clear juice or a sports beverage.
- Do not return to strenuous activity until a few hours after the
cramps have subsided as a precaution against further heat-related
- Seek medical attention for heat cramps if they
do not subside
in 1 hour.
is damaging to the skin and whenever possible take
measures to avoid getting a sunburn. The
discomfort associated with a sunburn is usually minor with healing
occurring in about a week. A more
severe sunburn may require medical attention.
Symptoms of sunburn are well known: skin becomes red, painful, and
warm after sun exposure.
What to Do
Consult a doctor if the sunburn affects an infant under 1 year of
age or if
these symptoms are present:
- fluid-filled blisters
- severe pain
Remember these tips when treating sunburn:
- Avoid repeated sun exposure.
- Apply cold compresses or immerse the sunburned area in cool
- Apply moisturizing lotion to affected areas. Do not use salve,
- Do not break blisters.
is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating
weather. It can occur at any age but is most common in young
Recognizing Heat Rash
Heat rash looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters.
It is more
likely to occur on the neck and upper chest, in the groin, under the
and in elbow creases.
What to Do
The best treatment for heat rash is to provide a cooler, less
environment. Keep the affected area dry. Dusting powder may be used
comfort, but avoid using ointments or creams-they keep the skin warm
and may make the condition worse.
Treating heat rash is simple and usually does not require medical
Other heat-related problems can be much more severe.
Medications can increase the risk of
The risk for heat-related illness and death may increase among people using the following drugs: (1) psychotropics, which affect psychic function, behavior, or experience (e.g.
haloperidol or chlorpromazine); (2) medications for
Parkinson's disease, because they can inhibit perspiration; (3) tranquilizers such as phenothiazines, butyrophenones, and thiozanthenes; and (4) diuretic medications or "water pills" that affect fluid balance in the body.
One last hot tip....
These self-help measures are not a substitute for medical care but
you recognize and respond promptly to warning signs of trouble. Your
defense against heat-related illness is prevention. Staying cool and
simple changes in your fluid intake, activities, and clothing during
can help you remain safe and healthy.
REFERENCES: Last Editorial Review: 7/6/2010
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Extreme Heat.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Extreme Heat: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety.