Tuesday, April 24, 2007

In Heat

The weather's been pretty hot this summer compared to the other summers I've felt in my 23 years of existence. The Philippines had the hottest 37 degrees last week and my sis told me that her classmate commented that if this temp would go on and on, we might be in for a heat wave. We agreed on one query: "What the heck is a heat wave?"

After a whole lot of mind-boggling researching (note: Googling), here's a gist of Wikipedia's say on heat wave:

A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity. There is no universal definition of a heat wave; [1] the term is relative to the usual weather in the area. Temperatures that people from a hotter climate consider normal can be termed a heat wave in a cooler area if they are outside the normal climate pattern for that area. [2] The term is applied both to routine weather variations and to extraordinary spells of heat which may occur only once a century. Severe heat waves have caused catastrophic crop failures, thousands of deaths from hyperthermia, and widespread power outages due to increased use of air conditioning.


Perhaps the most well-known heat-related illness is hyperthermia, also known as heat stroke. Classic heat stroke occurs during periods of sustained high temperature and humidity. Sweating is absent from 84%-100% of those affected. Older adults, very young children, and those who are sick or overweight are at a higher risk for heat-related illness. The chronically ill and elderly are often taking prescription medications (e.g., diuretics, anticholinergics, antipsychotics, and antihypertensives) that interfere with the body's ability to dissipate heat.[4]
Heat Edema presents as a transient swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles and is generally secondary to increased aldosterone secretion, which enhances water retention. When combined with periperhal vasodilation and venous stasis, the excess fluid accumulates in the dependent areas of the extremities. The heat edema usually resolves within several days after the patient becomes acclimated to the warmer environment. No treatment is required, although wearing support stocking and elevating the affected legs with help minimize the edema.
Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, is a maculopapular rash accompanined by acute inflammation and blocked sweat ducts. The sweat ducts may become dilated and may eventually rupture, producing small pruritic vesicles on an erythematous base. Heat rash affects areas of the body covered by tight clothing. If this continues for a duration of time it can lead to the development of chronic dermatitis or a secondary bacterial infection. Prevention is the best therapy. It is also advised to wear loose-fitting clothing in the heat. However, once heat rash has developed, the initial treatment involves the application of chlorhexidine lotion to remove any desquamated skin. The associated itching may be treated with topical or systemic antihistamines. If infection occurs a regimen of antibiotics is required.
Heat Cramps are painful, often severe, involuntary spasms of the large muscle groups used in strenuous exercise. Heat cramps tend to occur after intense exertion. They usually develop in people performing heavy exercise while sweating profusely and replenishing fluid loss with non-electrolyte containing water. This is believed to lead to hyponatremia that induces cramping in stressed muscles. Rehydration with salt-containing fluids provides rapid relief. Patients with mild cramps can be given oral .2% salt solutions, while those with severe cramps require IV isotonic fluids. The many sport drinks on the market are a good source of electrolytes and are readily accessible.
Heat syncope is related to heat exposure that produces postural hypotension. This hypotension can precipitate a near-syncopal episode. Heat syncope is believed to result from intense sweating, which leads to dehydration, followed by peripheral vasodilation and reduced venous blood return in the face of decreased vasomotor control. Management of heat syncope consists of cooling and rehydration of the patient using oral rehydration solutions (sport drinks) or isotonic IV fluids. People who experience heat syncope should avoid standing in the heat for long periods of time. They should move to a cooler environment and lie down if they recognize the initial symptoms. Wearing support stockings and engaging in deep knee-bending movements can help promote venous blood return.
That said, we really need a lot of water in our bodies. As in drinking lots of liquids except for coffee, tea and alcohol, mind you.

I thought I had symptoms of low blood pressure due to dizzy spells and headaches I was recently experiencing and Googled on it as well. (Hope this wears off soon.) Here I found out that I might just be dehydrated, that's all. But not to be taken lightly. Heat exhaustion may lead to heat stroke and we don't want that.


Symptoms of heat stroke can sometimes mimic those of heart attack or other conditions. Sometimes a person experiences symptoms of heat exhaustion before progressing to heart strokes. Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, headache, muscle cramps and aches, and dizziness. However some individuals can develop symptoms of heat stroke suddenly and rapidly without warning.
Different people may have different symptoms and signs of heat stroke. But common symptoms and signs of heart stroke include:
  • high body temperature
  • the absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin
  • rapid pulse
  • difficulty breathing
  • strange behavior
  • hallucinations
  • confusion
  • agitation
  • disorientation
  • seizure
  • coma

Victims of heat stroke must receive immediate treatment to avoid permanent organ damage. First and foremost, cool the victim. Get the victim to a shady area, remove clothing, apply cool or tepid water to the skin (for example you may spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose), fan the victim to promote sweating and evaporation, place ice packs under armpits and groins. Monitor body temperature with a thermometer and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102 degrees. Always notify emergency services (911) immediately. If their arrival is delayed, they can give you further instructions for treatment of the victim.
The most important measures to prevent heat strokes are to avoid becoming dehydrated, and to avoid vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather. If you have to perform physical activities in hot weather, drink plenty of fluids (such as water and Gatorade), but avoid alcohol, coffee, and tea which may lead to dehydration. Take frequent breaks to hydrate yourself. Wear hats, and light colored, and light and loose clothes.

We also need water outside of our bodies... meaning take frequent baths as possible and go for the beach! It's still summer and why not have fun, ei? ;)

Experiencing brownout but the fan's still running. The fan was plugged in UPS! How nice. ^_^

1 comment:

  1. There too many cases of heat stroke and prickly heat rashes for adults during summer. The best way to prevent is to take frequent bath, drink more water and make sure you are wearing cool clothes and not those fitted ones. Apply also a sunblock in your skin if you are going to beach.