A Doctor’s Advice for Dealing with Scorching Summer Heat

A record-breaking heat wave is sweeping the Mid-Atlantic, leaving many people susceptible to heat-related illnesses. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heat-related deaths are one of the deadliest weather-related health outcomes in the United States. Permanente adult and family medicine physician Jason Singh, MD, spoke with WTOP on how to spot heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include muscle cramps, nausea, fatigue, headache and dizziness. If someone is experiencing these symptoms, Dr. Singh recommends moving them to a cooler location, removing excess clothing and drinking water.

Heat stroke is the more extreme condition. A person suffering from heat stroke often has a fever greater than 103° F. According to the CDC, very high body temperatures can damage the brain or other vital organs. In severe cases, the problem can lead to multiple organ system failure and death.

“You start to have red-hot skin with no sweat, a rapid, strong pulse or you feel dizzy and confused. [Heat stroke] is a medical emergency, so seek attention right away,” Dr. Singh explained.

Dr. Singh said heat-related illnesses are usually preventable.

“Wear a wide-brimmed hat, and shades, and put on sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher,” he said.