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Hot Can Be Hazardous

The heat can fell you quickly, so follow these tips

SUNDAY, Aug. 16, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Some may like it hot, but even the hardiest of heat lovers can find themselves succumbing to heat illness or injury if they don't take precautions to stay cool.

Some early signs that the heat may be having an adverse effect on your body are heat cramps, which are the mildest form of heat injury. Common among athletes, heat cramps feel like muscle spasms and occur when you haven't had enough water, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Heat illness is elevated to a greater level with heat exhaustion. Symptoms, including nausea, dizziness and fatigue, again indicate that there has been inadequate fluid compensation for your body's sweating.

With heatstroke, the most extreme form of heat illness, the body's sweating mechanism shuts down, the skin becomes dry and there may be chills and a rapid pulse, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If such symptoms are observed, medical help should be sought immediately. Until help arrives, make sure the person suffering the symptoms is taken to a cool place and cooled down with water or wet towels.

One of the best ways to prevent heat injury is to make sure to drink plenty of fluids -- not alcohol or caffeine -- when in the heat or when working out. The AAOS also advises taking many breaks if you're exercising in hot weather; working out during cooler times of the day, before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.; and wearing lightweight, light-colored clothing made of porous fabrics.

More information

Visit the American Academy of Family Physicians for more information on heat-related illnesses.

SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; American Academy of Family Physicians
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