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Avoiding heat-related illnesses

The summer heat is in full effect, and with many families taking their fun outdoors during this holiday week, it is important to take proper precautions to avoid outdoor and heat-related injuries.

Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, occur when the body’s core temperature elevates, and, in serious cases causes, central nervous system malfunction.

Because heat-related illness can be very serious, and sometimes life-threatening it is important to be aware of the signs of the condition. These include rapid heart rate, excessive sweating, nausea, and in more severe cases, seizures, delirium and hallucinations. Fortunately, heat exhaustion and heatstroke are preventable illnesses.

During the summer heat, restrict outdoor activity in un-air conditioned places, maintain hydration, wear appropriate clothing and acclimatization over-time may help build your body’s tolerance for the heat.

If you suspect someone to be experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke, the primary response should be to get them cooled-off promptly.  Remove the individual from the sun or heat, spray or mist them with water, fan them, and try to get them hydrated.

Although sunburn can occur year-round, we tend to spend more time outdoors and expose more skin during the summer months—increasing the chance of skin damage due to sun exposure. Therefore it is extremely important to protect the skin and eyes by wearing sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses when spending time outdoors.

If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of a heat-related illness or injury, it is important to be evaluated by a medical professional to establish proper treatment needs and determine whether it is safe to return to normal activity. Cone Health has an exceptional network of urgent care and emergency services dedicated to treating patients with critical medical conditions, such as heat-related illness, throughout the community.

Spokesperson Background:

Chelle Jeffery is a physician assistant at Urgent Medical & Family Care on Pomona Drive in Greensboro and a member of Cone Health Medical Staff.  Jeffery has more than 12 years of experience in the medical field.  She graduated from Wake Forest University’s Physician Assistant Program in 1999 after receiving her Bachelor of Science in biology from Guilford College in 1995.

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