“Here in Northwest Arkansas, definitely important to stay mindful as we get going into summer of heat exposure.”, say Dr. Ryan Mantooth, Emergency Physicians at Washington Regional. “So, there’s actually quite a few different heat-related illnesses, um, things such as heat syncope where you can pass out from the heat, heat cramps, heat rash that some people call prickly heat. Um, but the big ones that we talk about are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Um, those are very important to delineate as well. Heat exhaustion, um, is serious, but once you start getting in the realm of heat stroke that becomes a true, life-threatening emergency. When you’re talking about dehydration or heat illness, there’s going to be a lot of overlap in the symptoms. Um, you know some pretty obvious ones, you heart rates gonna go up, breathings gonna go up, you can get kind of nauseous, may have some vomiting, some headache, feel fatigued. Um, with heat illness in particular your temperature will go up as well. When we really start getting worried is if your temperature reaches about 104 Fahrenheit, there’s no hard cut-off but that’s kind of where we really start getting worried. At that point, patients start to get what we call altered mental status. Um, confused, decreased level of consciousness, and they may be so out of it that they can’t even walk properly. You for sure need to go to the ER if you’re starting to get those altered mental status changes we talked about- the decreased consciousness, difficulty walking, etc., um, temperature over 104. If its short of that and you start appropriate cooling measures, get the person away from whatever heat exposure they’re in, um get them undressed as much is reasonable. Um, if you do those things, the person doesn’t seem to have heat stroke and they’re improving appropriately, then you can potentially avoid going to the ER.”
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