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Area Agency on Aging

Posted on: July 7, 2014

Staying Cool

Heatstroke is a life-threatening illness that occurs when a person’s body temperature rises to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. If the heat persists, organs in the body will begin to shut down. There are two types of heat stroke and they usually affect different types of people.

Non-exertional heatstroke occurs when a person is inactive and exposed to too much sun. This strikes people who are more vulnerable to illness such as small children, people with chronic illnesses, and the elderly. These people usually have a decreased ability to regulate their body temperature and are more likely to become overheated.

Exertional heatstroke occurs in otherwise healthy people when they are active outside during periods of high temperature.

Prior to getting heatstroke, people usually experience warning signs known as heat exhaustion. The symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, and fatigue. If someone suffering from heat exhaustion is not treated, they can quickly develop heatstroke.

Once the heatstroke has set in, persons will become confused and irritable. In most cases, they will begin to suffer from delusions, hallucinations, and even seizures. Usually this indicates that the damage has already been done. If the person’s body temperature is not lowered immediately, they may slip into a coma and die.

HERE ARE SOME WAYS TO KEEP COOL AND AVOID STRESS:
• Slow down. Take things slower in the hot weather.
• Keep your cool. Look for cool spots like an air conditioned room in your house, a shopping mall, a senior center, a public library, or a movie theater.
• Use air conditioning if you have it. Do not turn off your air conditioner to save energy if it is going to endanger your health.
• Use fans. Portable fans and ceiling fans keep the air moving and blow away body heat. Window fans in the evening can draw cool night air into the home.
• Dress light. Wear light colors and loose-fitting cotton clothing.
• Drink lots of water and other liquids. Cool baths and showers also help.
• Watch what you eat. Watch your salt use, and avoid alcohol, hot foods, and heavy meals.
• Avoid using the stove and heating up your home; try salads and sandwiches.

Westmoreland County
Area Agency on Aging
Information Line
200 South Main Street
Greensburg, PA 15601
Contact: Beverly Trovato
724-830-4444
1-800-442-8000

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