Warmth stroke, warmth exhaustion indications and what to do

Aaron McElwain, 13, drinks some water after riding his scooter at Haulover Skateboard Park on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, in Miami Beach, Fla. Miami-Dade County issued a heat advisory for residents after the National Weather Service estimated the heat index would reach between 105 and 108 degrees.

Aaron McElwain, 13, drinks some water soon after using his scooter at Haulover Skateboard Park on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, in Miami Seaside, Fla. Miami-Dade County issued a warmth advisory for inhabitants soon after the Nationwide Weather Provider approximated the heat index would attain involving 105 and 108 levels.

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While people in South Florida are used to the heat, this year’s sweltering summer weather has led to heat advisories, Miami-Dade’s first-ever excessive heat warning, and Miami breaking a decades-old heat record.

Anecdotally, South Florida doctors said they haven’t seen an increase in patients visiting the ER for heat-related illnesses. But there’s still a concern with how hot it is in South Florida.

Infants and kids younger then 4, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions or who take certain medications are at higher risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, experts say. Other heat-related illnesses include blistering rashes, painful sunburns, muscle cramps and heat stroke.

What are symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke share some similar symptoms, such as dizziness, fatigue, headache and nausea, though heat stroke is more severe and needs hospitalization.

Here are other common symptoms the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say you should watch out for:

For heat exhaustion: Heavy sweating, cold, pale and clammy skin, a fast and weak pulse and fainting.

For heat stroke: Hot, red, dry or damp skin, a high body temperature of 103 F or higher, confusion, a fast and strong pulse and fainting.

People socialize and swim at Venetian Pool on Wednesday, June 28, 2023, in Coral Gables, Florida.
Folks socialize and swim at Venetian Pool on Wednesday, June 28, 2023, in Coral Gables, Florida. D.A. Varela [email protected]

How to treat it?

Lightheadedness is often one of the common symptoms people start to feel when they begin to overheat.

If you start feeling lightheaded or dizzy,”the best thing for you is to not stay in the heat and drink water; the best thing is for you to get out of the heat” and go somewhere with air conditioning, said Dr. Hany Atallah, chief medical officer at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

If you can’t get out of the heat, look for shade, sit down and drink cold water or sports drinks to try and cool yourself down, he said.

The Mayo Clinic recommends contacting your doctor if symptoms worsen or don’t improve within one hour.

“What happens is, once you get to a point where you’re so extreme with heat-related illness, it can become very, very dangerous, very quickly,” said Dr. David Mishkin of Baptist Health South Florida. He’s Baptist’s assistant medical director of ER and medical director of Baptist Care on Demand telehealth services.

“If you’re with someone who has heat exhaustion, seek immediate medical help if they become confused or distressed, lose consciousness, or are unable to drink,” the Mayo Clinic said. “If their core body temperature — measured by a rectal thermometer — reaches 104 F (40 C) or higher, they need immediate cooling and urgent medical attention.”

How to avoid heat-related illness?

Wear loose and light-colored clothing.

Hydrate. Drink cold water, sports drinks and juice. While a cold beer or pina colada by the pool side or while chilling on a boat might feel refreshing, alcohol is actually dehydrating. So make sure to drink water or sports drinks throughout the day, especially when outside.

Wear sunscreen and wear a hat to help protect your skin. Not only are sunburns painful, the red blotches increase your body’s temperature, making you more prone to heat. Sunburns also increase your risk of skin cancer.

Exercise and play sports outdoors in the early morning or later in the evening to avoid the hottest weather.

“You may have to modify some lifestyle changes during this time of year,” said Mishkin. “Be careful, limit alcohol intake, dress appropriately, be a little bit more cautious with your physical activity. Exercise and being outdoors is a good thing — sports and recreation — but be smart about how you do it.”

“And more than anything, just check in with your family, friends and neighbors, especially your elderly relatives. Check in with them throughout the summer more regularly, and make sure that they’re not suffering from any heat-related effects to sort of prevent those more catastrophic issues,” he said.

This tale was at first released August 5, 2023, 5:30 AM.

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Michelle Marchante is the Miami Herald’s Wellness Reporter. She formerly included all issues Florida for the Herald as a Authentic Time/Breaking Information Reporter. She graduated with honors from Florida Worldwide University, where she served as the editor-in-chief of Scholar Media PantherNOW. Formerly, she worked as a news writer at WSVN Channel 7 and was a 2020-2021 Poynter-Koch Media & Journalism fellow.