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Beat the heat with these tips from Vanderbilt’s emergency department

Aug. 6, 2007, 10:48 AM

Corey Slovis, M.D., chair of emergency medicine at Vanderbilt Medical Center, offers the following tips on how to “beat the heat” as summertime temperatures continue to rise.

Slovis said Vanderbilt’s emergency department typically sees two types of heat emergencies – heat exhaustion, which is caused by dehydration, is associated with headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, and cool, usually damp skin. Heat stroke, the most serious heat emergency, is defined as a body temperature over 105 degrees, irrational behavior, extreme confusion, dry, hot and red skin, and rapid, shallow breathing.

Slovis offers these tips to avoid a heat emergency:

1. Avoid prolonged direct exposure to bright sunlight—take a time out in the shade, wear a broad-brimmed hat, or shield yourself from the sun in some other way.

2. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting cotton clothing.

3. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids. Alcohol predisposes people to heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

4. Remember that some people are more vulnerable than others: the very young, the very old, and people who are taking diuretics or anti-hypertensive medications have greater risk from the heat.

5. Know the symptoms of heat problems: “Just not feeling right” –lethargy, dizziness, trouble concentrating and slurred speech are common early symptoms.

6. Know how to respond to heat problems: Get affected person to a cool area out of the direct sunlight, keep them wet with cool water or wet towels, turn a fan on them to help cool the body. If the person quickly feels better, it’s likely that no further medical attention is needed. If symptoms persist, get the person to a doctor.

Media contact: Jerry Jones, 615-322-4747

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