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FACT or MYTH: The risk of heat-related illness dramatically increases when the heat index climbs to 90 degrees or more.

March 2017

FACT! The risk of heat-related illness dramatically increases when the heat index climbs to 90 degrees or more. It is important to be aware of the heat index and plan scheduled breaks during extended outdoor activity during the summer months. It is also important to know the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment for heat-related illness.

Risk Factors for Heat Exhaustion:

Heat exhaustion is strongly related to the heat index, which is a measurement of how hot you feel when the effects of relative humidity and air temperature are combined. A relative humidity of 60% or more hampers sweat evaporation, which hinders your body's ability to cool itself.

Other risk factors associated with heat-related illness include:

1. Age. Infants and children up to age 4, and adults over the ago of 65, are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illness because they adjust to heat more slowly.

2. Certain health conditions. Those with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or heart, lung, or kidney disease should exercise extreme caution in the summer months.

3. Medications. These include diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, stimulants, some heart and blood pressure medications, and medications for psychiatric conditions.

The most common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Confusion
  • Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration)
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Pale skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat

If you or anyone else has symptoms of heat exhaustion, it is essential to immediately get out of the heat and rest. Find an air-conditioned room or the nearest shady spot. Drink plenty of fluid and remove any tight or unnecessary clothing. Take a cool shower or apply ice towels and sit in front of a fan. 

If the above measures are unsuccessful within 30 minutes, contact your doctor!

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