Heat disorders are another reason that the Sun can very well be called our foe. Heat disorders can affect everyone from sun-bathers to people who work outside for extended periods of time. Factors that affect the amount of stress a person in a hot area receives include temperature, humidity, and air movement though a persons weight, medical condition and acclimatization to the heat also affect the amount of stress they receive.
The human body reacts to high temperatures by circulating blood to the skin. This increases the skins temperature and causes the body to give off excess heat through the skin. When muscles are being worked hard less blood is available to flow to the skin and release heat, this causes people to overheat.
When the body can't get rid of the extra heat, it stores it. This heat accumulates until the persons body temperature rises significantly and their heart begins to beat faster. They will become irritable and sometimes sick, people suffering under heat stress often faint.
Several heat disorders include:
Heat Exhaustion - Heat exhaustion is caused by a loss of fluid through sweating. Heat exhaustion can occur when a person hasn't had enough fluids, or salt, or both. A person with heat exhaustion still sweats, becomes weak, begins to feel fatigued, or in some cases, giddy. Other signs of heat exhaustion include nausea, headaches, moist clammy skin, and pale or flushed skin. A persons body temperature who has heat exhaustion is usually normal or a little bit higher than normal.
To treat heat exhaustion you can place the victim in a cool place and give him an electrolyte solution. An electrolyte solution is a drink used by athletes to quickly restore potassium, calcium, and magnesium salts. If a victim becomes unconscious they will require medical treatment.
Heat Cramps - Heat cramps are very painful spasms of the muscles. They are caused by drinking lots of water and not having enough salt in your body. You can have heat cramps while working and sometimes after working. You can treat heat cramps by drinking liquids in moderate amounts, electrolyte solutions, etc.
Fainting (Heat Syncope) - People who haven't gotten used to a hot environment such as people that have just come back from vacation or moved to a hot area recently are sometimes subject to fainting. You should treat a person who has fainted by letting them lay down for a while. After they have rested have them begin moving around slowly. Moving around instead of staying in the same place helps keep people from fainting.
Heat Rash - Heat rash occurs in hot, humid environments. When people are in these environments for long periods of time they often develop heat rash. Sometimes this rash makes it hard to sit or lay down without pain. You should avoid being in hot, humid environments for extended periods of time to avoid heat rash.
Heat Stroke - People in hot environments can have occurences of heat stroke. This is the worst of the heat disorders we are going to cover. Heat stroke is caused when the body isn't functioning properly so it can't regulate its inside temperature. This makes sweating stop. When sweating stops it makes the body unable to get rid of extra heat. People who have a case of heat stroke often have a body temperature of 106 degrees farenheit or 41.1 degrees celsius and sometimes higher. They are often mentally confused; they sometimes faint or go into a coma. Their skin becomes hot to the touch and very dry.
People who have heat stroke can die unless they quickly receive medical treatment. Unless you are the medical help you can move the person to a cool area, soak them in cool water, and fan them down while you wait for proper medical treatment. For more information go to Main Heat Stroke Page
You can usually prevent heat disorders
This list is by no means extensive, but it will give you a start.
©Copyright 1998 Elizabeth
Beckett, Holly Bernitt, and Vishwa Chandra.