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Things you can do, eat to help prevent heat-related illnesses in extreme heat

heat illness prevention
Posted at 9:30 AM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 13:09:53-04

High temperatures put people at risk for heat-related illnesses, but there are other factors that make some more susceptible than others.

When spending time outdoors in the summer, we know to stay hydrated. But you may need more than just water.

“Some people may not even notice it until they go to urinate that their urine is exceedingly dark because it’s very concentrated. Your kidneys are trying to preserve the fluid,” said Dr. Chris Holstege with University of Virginia Health.

Dr. Holstege says to have a mixture of fluids that have carbohydrates and electrolytes. He’s seen a spectrum of heat-related issues over his career from heat exhaustion to heat cramps and the most extreme case—heat stroke.

“What it really comes down to with heat stroke is it’s someone who has altered mental status and organ dysfunction,” he explained.

A heat-related myth is that if a person is still sweating they can’t have heat stroke. Dr. Holstege says that’s not true. He also says only an internal temperature reading is going to be accurate in determining if someone is overheating.

The average person gets about 20% of their daily water intake from food. Eating certain fruits and vegetables like berries, melons, celery, cucumbers and tomatoes, which are all 80% or more water, can help you stay hydrated.

Certain medications and health conditions can make people more susceptible to heat-related illness. Dr. Holstege says antihistamines can impact the body’s ability to sweat. Some psychiatric medications, diuretics, beta-blockers, and even Icy Hot, can affect how heat leaves the body. Psoriasis can affect the body’s ability to sweat as well.