Heat-Related Illnesses

running sneakers on an athletic track

Summer is a time to relax and spend time with family. While we hope you’re enjoying these sunny days, Capital Health Plan would also like to remind you to take the proper precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones from heat-related illnesses.

Heat-related illness occurs when we can no longer transfer enough heat from our bodies to keep us cool. Symptoms can develop quickly in extremely hot conditions, especially in small spaces with poor ventilation.

It’s important to recognize that heat-related illnesses can take on many forms. Sometimes people develop heat rashes, causing their sweat ducts to become blocked and itching to occur. Other times, people can get heat cramps from excessive sweating, which rids the body of necessary salt and minerals and disrupts normal muscle functioning. Excess heat can also cause swelling in hands and legs, fainting, and even heat stroke if the conditions are extreme enough.

These symptoms may sound scary, but they can be avoided by listening to your body and following a few simple tips.

If you know you’re going to be in a hot environment with direct sunlight, you should plan accordingly. Be careful not to overdress, avoid drinking alcohol while you’re in the sun, and make sure you consistently drink water. Two quarts of cool fluids, preferably water, every 2-4 hours is recommended.

If you’re out in the sun and begin to feel like you’re developing a heat-related illness, immediately take steps to cool yourself down. Stop whatever it is you’re doing and rest, get out of direct sunlight and into a cooler area, elevate your feet, remove unnecessary layers of clothing, and of course, drink water or rehydration beverages.

With these tips at your disposal, you can feel comfortable grabbing your hat, sunglasses, and water and enjoying these summer months. Be mindful of your body and the dangers of excessive heat – and, as always, if you have a medical emergency, you should immediately dial 911.