Heat-related illnesses – Types, symptoms and treatment part 1
Sunlight and water are essential for the existence of life on our planet, but too much of a good thing is not always a good thing. In summer, and especially if we spend much time outdoors, we should be careful about how much sunlight we receive. Moreover, if you practice sports, it is essential to be aware of something called heat-related illnesses, a condition that includes heat cramps, heat stroke, and other medical entities.
When the weather and your own body heat override the cooling mechanisms of the organism, your core temperature rises gradually. This is more common in very young people and seniors, and prevalent in those who participate in outdoor sports during hot weather. Increasing your body temperature may cause alterations in your brain and heart tissue, dehydrate your body, and create circulatory issues.
These are the most common types of heat-related illnesses and their symptoms:
It is one of the mildest forms of heat-related illnesses because it is not often associated with significant complications. In response to extreme weather, the skin might develop a type of rash with red pimples in the skin of the neck, chest, and groin. An internist will be able to differentiate a heat rash from a hypersensitivity reaction to sunlight called polymorphous light eruption.
It is one of the most common types of heat-related illnesses. It is a mild problem if we compare heat cramps with heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but it can turn into a severe condition when it lasts for more than one hour and in patients with heart problems. It results from an electrolyte imbalance as a result of excessive sweating, and it is often associated with intense exercise. Patients describe intense muscle pain and spasms, and they may or may not show an increase in body temperature.
It is one of the most severe types of heat-related illnesses and results from dehydration due to profuse sweating accompanied by an increase in body temperature as the body becomes unable to cope with the rise of temperature. The most common symptoms are dizziness, weakness, irritability, and nausea. Body temperature is often very high, and the skin might even turn hot and red. If you take the pulse, it is very fast and strong, and sometimes these patients would even experience confusion and loss of consciousness.
It is the last step in the severity of heat-related illnesses because heat stroke includes more neurologic symptoms. When heat exhaustion is not correctly solved, it may turn into a heat stroke. This is an absolute emergency, and all cases require urgent medical assistance. These patients share the symptoms of heat exhaustion, but their level of disorientation and alterations of the consciousness is more profound. If the problem is not correctly solved, small children might experience seizures, and adults may also undergo organ failure and death. It is a medical emergency an internist or any healthcare professional should assess right away.
To know how heat-related illnesses are diagnosed and treated, stay tuned to part 2 of this article that will be published soon.