IRVING – The start of May has been among the five warmest on record in North Texas, according to meteorologists. Unseasonably hot temperatures earlier than normal have provided little time for the body to acclimate, increasing the risk of heat exhaustion and prompting emergency room physicians at Medical City Las Colinas to provide safety tips.
“The elderly, people with underlying medical conditions and those who work outside are most vulnerable to heat-related illnesses,” says Nathan Ham, DO, medical director of emergency medicine at Medical City Las Colinas. “Gradually increasing outside heat exposure can help the body better adapt and can be important to avoid overheating.”
Heat acclimatization is the improvement in heat tolerance that comes from gradually increasing the intensity or duration of work performed in a hot setting. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heat-related illness, including heat stroke and heat exhaustion, sends more than 67,000 people to the ER annually, with more than 700 deaths.
To help North Texans acclimatize to the early surge in high temperatures, medical experts at Medical City Las Colinas recommend following these tips:
- Gradually increase the workload performed in a hot setting over a period of 1-2 weeks
- Stay hydrated, start drinking fluids before going outdoors
- Limit alcohol
- Eat regular meals, which provide electrolytes lost in sweat
- Dress in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and wear a wide-brimmed hat
Physical condition, age and other factors may affect how the body copes with heat. Heat-related illnesses are preventable. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Rapid pulse
- Tiredness or weakness
Medical City Las Colinas medical experts recommend seeking medical treatment if symptoms don’t improve after getting out of the heat and if they worsen or are still present after one hour. Learn more about how to stay cool and avoid heat-related illness here.