Excessive heat can cause serious health complications

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reminds Iowans to take measures to avoid serious health problems associated with summer heat. Serious health complications from heat include exhaustion, stroke and dehydration.

Heat exhaustion occurs when sweating, the body’s cooling system fails to eliminate heat fast enough. The first signs of heat exhaustion are faintness, rapid pulse, flushing or reddening of the skin, and often accompanied by stomachache or headache. When heat exhaustion symptoms occur, stop all activity and drink liquids such as water or re-hydrating fluids (Gatorade, Powerade, or for children, Pedialyte). Do not drink alcohol, coffee or caffeinated soft drinks. If possible, take a cool shower.

Heat stroke, a more serious and potentially deadly situation, is commonly associated with confusion on the part of the affected person, who may also stop sweating. In this situation, seek medical help immediately. While waiting for help, the person needs to be cooled, or if possible, taken to a cooler environment.

Dehydration occurs as a contributing factor and comes when fluid and sodium lost by sweating are not replaced quickly enough. A person should continually drink fluids and not wait until thirsty because thirst is a sign of dehydration. It’s important to maintain fluids by drinking two to four glasses of cool water or fluids an hour.

Take breaks and drink plenty of fluids when participating in outdoor activities like construction, yard work or recreation. This is also the same for Iowans living in non-air-conditioned buildings. Try to limit outdoor activities in the heat of the day, do outside work before noon or in the evening, and parents need to check that children are well hydrated.

When temperatures rise, never leave children, elderly or pets in a parked car, even for a few moments. Leaving a window partially open may not be enough to protect those inside from rapidly rising temperatures.

For more information locally, contact the Veterans Memorial Hospital Community and Home Care Department at 563-568-5660.