If you can't stand the heat . . . - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

If you can't stand the heat . . .

Updated: Jul 02, 2014 02:12 PM
© iStockphoto / Thinkstock © iStockphoto / Thinkstock

(HealthDay News) -- Summer's heat puts everyone at potential risk for heat-related illness, but seniors and people with chronic health problems are especially vulnerable.

Heat illnesses -- collectively known as hyperthermia -- include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat fatigue and a life-threatening condition called heat stroke. A person's risk for heat illness depends on a number of factors, including outside temperature, general health and individual lifestyle, according to the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA).

The NIA says individual and health factors that increase the risk of heat illness include:

    Age-related changes to the skin such as poor blood circulation and inefficient sweat glands.

    Alcohol use, dehydration, and being significantly overweight or underweight.

    Heart, lung and kidney diseases, and any illness that causes general weakness or fever.

    High blood pressure or other health issues that require diet changes. For example, people on salt-restricted diets may be at increased risk.

    However, people should not take salt pills without first consulting a doctor.

    Reduced perspiration caused by medications such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers and certain heart and blood pressure drugs.

    Taking multiple medications. But, you should continue to take all prescribed medications and discuss possible problems with your doctor.

    Lifestyle factors that increase the risk of heat illness include: living in housing without air conditioning; not drinking enough water; not understanding how to respond to weather conditions; overdressing; going to overcrowded places; having difficulty getting around; and lack of access to transportation, according to the NIA.

    Older people, especially those with chronic health conditions, should stay indoors on hot and humid days, especially when there's an air pollution alert. They should have air conditioning or at least a fan and air circulation.

    People without air conditioning should go to public places that have air conditioning, such as senior centers, libraries, shopping malls and movie theaters. Another option is to go to a cooling center, which are operated by local public health agencies, social service groups and other organizations in many communities, the NIA advises.

    If someone appears to be suffering from heat illness, get them out of the heat and into a shady, cool or air-conditioned place, and have them lie down. If you suspect heat stroke, call 911.

    Apply cold, wet cloths to the person's wrists, neck, armpits and groin. Blood passes close to the surface of the skin in these locations, and placing cold cloths at these points can help cool the blood. Another option is to help the person bathe or sponge off with cool water, according to the NIA.

    If the person is able to swallow safely, offer them fluids such as water or fruit and vegetable juices. Don't give them alcoholic or caffeinated beverages.

    More information

    The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about heat illness.

    Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

    • Health WatchMore>>

    • House approves VA health care overhaul

      House approves VA health care overhaul

      Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:12 PM EDT2014-07-31 01:12:40 GMT
      With a new Veterans Affairs secretary in place and an August recess looming, Congress is moving quickly to approve a compromise bill to refurbish the VA and improve veterans' health care.
      The House overwhelmingly approved a landmark bill Wednesday to help veterans avoid long waits for health care that have plagued the Veterans Affairs Department for years.
    • $1,000 Sovaldi now hepatitis treatment of choice

      $1,000 Sovaldi now hepatitis treatment of choice

      Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:58 PM EDT2014-07-31 00:58:45 GMT
      A $1,000-per-pill drug that insurers are reluctant to pay for has quickly become the treatment of choice for a liver-wasting viral disease that affects more than 3 million Americans.
      The price is sky-high, but so is demand. A new $1,000-per-pill drug has become the treatment of choice for Americans with hepatitis C, a liver-wasting disease that affects more than 3 million.
    • Deportations halted at New Mexico processing center

      Deportations halted at New Mexico processing center

      Deportations halted at New Mexico processing center

      Artesia, NM - Officials at an immigration processing center in new mexico announced they will be halting all deportations for the time being.
      Artesia, NM - Officials at an immigration processing center in new mexico announced they will be halting all deportations for the time being.