July 12, 2017
As a dangerous and stifling heat keeps the Kansas City area in its grip, the region's leading healthcare provider is seeing a spike in patients coming to their Emergency Rooms to be treated for illnesses and injuries related to the rising temps.
“HCA Midwest Health has experienced a spike in patients coming to our network of 10 Emergency Rooms due to heat- related illnesses or injuries,” says Dr. Darryl Nelson, HCA Midwest Health, Chief Medical Officer. “In the past two days, more than 20 cases have been treated. The illnesses are primarily due to heat exhaustion.”
Dr. Nelson explains the two types of heat exhaustion:
- Symptoms of water depletion include excessive thirst, weakness, headache and loss of consciousness.
- Symptoms from salt depletion include nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps and dizziness.
“Other symptoms for heat exhaustion include dark-colored urine, which is a sign of dehydration, confusion, fainting, pale skin, rapid heartbeat and profuse sweating,” he adds.
Nelson notes it’s essential to immediately get out of the heat and rest, preferably in an air-conditioned room. If you’re unable to seek shelter inside, find the nearest cool and shady place. Other recommended strategies include:
- Drink plenty of fluid (avoid caffeine and alcohol).
- Remove any tight or unnecessary clothing.
- Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
- Apply other cooling measures such as fans or ice towels.
- Be especially vigilant if you’re in a high-risk group, which includes, elderly, infants, pregnant woman and those with chronic medical conditions.
“After someone has recovered from heat exhaustion, they’ll probably be more sensitive to high temperatures during the following week,” Nelson says, “so it's best to avoid hot weather and heavy exercise until your doctor tells you that it's safe to resume your normal activities.”
If these measures don’t provide relief within 15 minutes, seek emergency medical help immediately by calling 9-1-1 or get to the nearest emergency room—untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.