Protect yourself from harsh Texas heat this summerParkland provides tips to avoid heat exhaustion, heat stroke
DALLAS – Extreme Texas heat plagues Dallas during the summer months with temperatures often soaring in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. From 1999 to 2010, 7,415 deaths in the United States, an average of 618 per year, were associated with exposure to excessive natural heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since 2011, Parkland Memorial Hospital has seen more than 100 patients with heat-related diagnoses in its emergency department. With such severe temperatures putting the community at risk, Parkland’s staff encourages people of all ages to be cautious while participating in outdoor activities to avoid developing heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion occurs when people are exposed to high temperatures, especially when combined with strenuous physical activity and humidity, and when the body loses fluids and becomes dehydrated. When heat exhaustion elevates it may result in heat stroke, a life-threatening medical condition occurring when the body’s cooling system, which is controlled by the brain, stops working. The resulting high body temperature causes damage to internal organs, including the brain, and could result in death.
“It’s especially important to pay attention to those at high risk for developing heat stroke such as children, the elderly and patients with chronic medical problems,” said Noel O. Santini, MD, Medical Director, Parkland Community Oriented Primary Care.
Symptoms of heat stroke include thirst; red, warm and dry skin; body temperature over 104 degrees Fahrenheit; fast breathing and heart rate; vomiting; muscle cramps; confusion or disorientation and coma.
Dr. Santini provides the following tips to prevent heat stroke:
• Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures
• Rest while participating in physical activity
• Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, and minimize alcoholic consumption
• If you exercise outdoors, do so early in the morning
• Wear loose and light-weight clothing
• Avoid strenuous physical activities in high temperatures
“The heat here in Texas can be a serious threat and it’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly,” said Dr. Santini. “Go immediately to an Emergency Room or call 911 if you or someone else is disoriented, vomiting, cannot drink fluids, short of breath or experiencing chest or abdominal pain.”
Parkland Health & Hospital System is dedicated to the health and well-being of individuals and communities entrusted to its care. For more information, please visit www.parklandhospital.com.