Summer is my favorite season. I spend most of my days lazing at the beach and tend to adopt more of a relaxed lifestyle. One thing I do miss though are my long runs and weekend hikes. But, at this time of year, when temperatures and humidity levels soar, our risk of heat exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke, increases. And while this is a likely concern for a woman my age, the heat can take its toll on the young too.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening issue if you suffer from conditions like high blood pressure, thyroid disease or diabetes. It also means that you're more susceptible to a heat stroke, as well as other issues like eating disorders or a high BMI. Taking medications with stimulants may also put you at risk of heat stroke.
As such, scorching summer temperatures do not guarantee that you will have a heat stroke, however, the closer the outside temperature gets to your body temperature, the higher your risk is. At this time of year, it is therefore better to exercise with the air-conditioner on, particularly when heat levels soar to the 90s or 100s. Nevertheless, it is always useful to know how to prevent an emergency such as this, as typically, someone doesn't just have a heat stroke out of the blue in a matter of minutes.
These warning signs will tell you to slow down:
1. Your body temperature soars
You may be familiar with heat exhaustion, which is worrisome, but less extreme when compared to heat stroke. Whereas the latter body temperature usually maxes out at 102°F, someone suffering from a heat stroke will likely have their body temperature at 105°F or higher! As your temperature rises, your skin may flush red and your heart could start racing as it tries to cool your body down.
2. Your organs start to fail
Once your body temperature soars to 105 and over, your organs can shut down. The kidneys, the liver, the heart and the brain can be affected. If your kidneys start to fail you may spot red urine.
3. You feel nauseated
One of the most common symptoms of heat exhaustion is feeling queasy, accompanied by other signs such as fatigue and vomiting. If recognized early, head to a cool place and replenish lost fluids and electrolytes by having a sports drink.
4. You are confused
Another marker of a heat stroke are changes in mental status, confusion and delirium. The changes also indicate that you have moved from heat exhaustion to a life-threatening heat stroke. 70% of people who get to this stage can die from it. By this point, you won't be able to converse or think clearly enough to step away from the heat and get the help you need. If you ever feel slightly woozy, move indoors as soon as possible.
Bonus! This video sums up all you need to know about a heat stroke and what you should do in such an event: