When The Heat Goes Up, Bodies Need To Chill Out

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The heat is on, it's important to keep your cool.

Dr. Sarah Sartain, an emergency physician at Stormont-Vail in Topeka, said our bodies can deal with short exposures to extreme temperatures, high or low, but, after long periods, they simply aren't as capable of coping.

The result can land you in the hospital. The Centers for Disease Control says some 6,000 people a year seek treatment for heat-related illness. It starts as heat exhaustion. When working or playing hard, you might start sweating heavily, get weak, dizzy or nauseous and experience muscle cramps. Sartain says, at the first signs of heat illness, gradually try to get your body temp down by going to a cool place and drinking fluids.

Ignore those signs and it can progress to heat stroke. Sartain says if a person stops sweating or shows a change in mental status, such as confusion, it's time to seek emergency medical attention.

Heat stroke, she says, can cause multi-organ system failure or long-term damage to kidneys, the heart, even muscles.

Prevention is the best medicine, so, when the temps go up, take precautions. Sartain says make sure to drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic fluids before, during and after time in the heat to stay hydrated. If you must be out in the heat, take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors in the air conditioning. Also, wear light-colored, loose clothing.

Young children and the elderly are more susceptible to heat-related illness and should take extra precautions.