How to Recognize Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Being older is not for the faint of heart, and neither is the summer heat in Kansas.  Healthcare professionals see an increase in heat-related illness during the summer.  Everyone is susceptible to heat-related illnesses, but being over 65 is one of the leading risks.  Other risks also include if you are working outside, dehydration or limited ways to cool yourself off like having access to air conditioning.  With proper knowledge and preparation, heat-related illnesses can be avoided. 

There is a wide range of heat related illnesses which include heat rash, heat cramps and two of the most dangerous ones: heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  Heat exhaustion or heat stroke occur when the body is unable to properly cool itself down in extreme heat.  If signs from heat exhaustion are not addressed, it can progress to a heat stroke.  A heat stroke is more dangerous and requires immediate medical intervention.  Being aware and educating yourself on the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and when it could elevate to heat stroke is an important first step.  Below are some symptoms to look for and what you can do to rectify the situation.

VNA Heat Stroke vs Heat Exhaustion Graphic for web

Since heat exhaustion and heat stroke are preventable, it is important to know what you can do to prevent such episodes.  Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.  Minimize time outdoors in the sun during the midday hours when the temperature is at its highest.  That may mean making appointments for earlier in the day or working in the garden or outside during the morning hours.  When you do go outside, be sure to take breaks, wear sunscreen and wear loose, light colored clothing.  It would also be wise to make sure you have access to somewhere cool, ideally inside and in air conditioning.  Hopefully, these tips and information will help during the hot summer months.

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