Published June 21, 2012
Temperatures in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are expected to hit the upper 90s this week according to an excessive-heat warning issued by the National Weather Service. Each summer, heat waves bring with them concerns about heat stroke and other heat-related conditions, such as exhaustion amid rising temperatures.
Health experts recommend wearing light-colored clothing, staying in air-conditioned spaces, or running a fan and misting yourself with cold water. Other precautions include staying cool, indoors and hydrated.
“The important thing is keep up with fluid status,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City where the heat index is expected to exceed 100 degrees this week. “Don’t just drink fluids when you’re thirsty.”
Instead, Glatter recommends people drink at least six to eight glasses of water throughout the day because thirst isn’t the best indicator that your body is overheated. While sports drinks containing electrolytes may help, Glatter said drinks with excess caffeine and sugar may actually worsen dehydration.
Heat stroke, which happens when the body’s internal temperature exceeds 105 degrees (normal temperature is about 98 degrees), can take anywhere from several hours or days to develop and sufferers often appear flushed and confused, said Glatter. Other symptoms to watch for include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth and lips, and the inability to sweat.
While heat stroke most commonly affects the elderly, Glatter said younger people can also suffer from exertional heat stroke. Even well-conditioned athletes can forget to keep up with hydration during hot days and may pass out, said Glatter.