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Use caution in extreme heat
Daytime temperatures in South Central Texas continue to inch upward, with temperatures in some locales passing the 100-degree mark on June 10. Those who must venture outdoors are being urged to be careful.
Dr. Curtis Grote, emergency department medical director at the Connally Memorial Medical Center in Floresville, said the emergency room has seen approximately five cases of heat exhaustion over the past month.
“The most important things to remember with the rising temperatures throughout the summer months are to stay hydrated and be aware of feelings of fatigue and dizziness while working outside,” Grote said. “It is recommended to schedule as many outdoor activities during early morning or late evening hours instead of the peak temperature hours of the day.”
Heat is being eyed as the possible cause of death for a 41-year-old La Vernia resident, who was found dead June 6 outside his Blackjack Road home. See article, page 7A.
Dr. Steven Scheppler, a family practice physician on staff with the Connally Memorial Medical Center, said chief complaints among patients have been dizziness, nausea, and vomiting, with a history of being exposed to the heat. Those with mild, heat-related illness also may experience symptoms such as muscle cramping, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, or irrability.
“When dealing with other than very mild heat-related illnesses, it is better to seek prompt medical care rather than to wait and see how things turn out,” Scheppler said.
Those most at risk are people older than 65 or younger than 15, and those with cognitive impairment, heart and lung disease, limited access to air-conditioning, mental illness, obesity, or physical disabilities or impaired mobility. People who work outdoors or participate in strenuous activity during the hottest daytime hours are at an especially high risk of developing heat-related illnesses, Scheppler said, although no one is immune.
“During hot weather, you will need to increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level,” he said. “Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. In general, during heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses -- 16-32 ounces -- of cool non-alcoholic fluids each hour.”
The doctor also stressed the importance of lightweight, light-colored clothing and having a shaded rest area. If the symptoms of heat stress should arise, Scheppler said it is best to move to a cool location, rest, and replace fluid, salt, and minerals.
“Heat stroke is a true emergency that requires immediate recognition and treatment,” he said. “Heat stroke may have symptoms of confusion, dizziness, hallucination, headache, nausea/vomiting, and loss of consciousness, among others.”
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