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Know the signs of heat illness

high line sunbathing suntan heat stroke The High Line is a great place to spend a sunny day, but remember to stay hydrated.
Credit: Getty Images

We’ve been lucky in New York City this summer, with only three days when the mercury hit 90 degrees or more in July. But heat-related complications can occur at even lower temperatures.

Heat illness is a spectrum of conditions ranging from mild symptoms resulting in heat exhaustion to heat stroke, in which your body fails to regulate its internal temperature, which can cause damage to your cardiovascular and central nervous systems.

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The first three recommendations are to drink, drink, drink. Staying well hydrated on hot summer days, whether it’s with water or sports beverages, is key. Alcoholic, carbonated and caffeinated drinks might actually raise your body temperature and/or contribute to dehydration.

On days when heat and humidity are high, stay indoors as much as possible. The high humidity prevents evaporation of sweat, impairing your body’s ability to cool itself.

Certain medical conditions might also interfere with your body’s cooling mechanisms. The heat can also exacerbate the symptoms of these illnesses.

Exercising outdoors in temperatures above 80 degrees can be dangerous. Limit your activities to the cooler early morning or late afternoon hours.


Getting warmer


After spending time in the heat, there could be a problem if you:

• feel faint
• get nauseated
• have a headache

These could be the first signs or symptoms of heat-related illness. Find a shady area or air-conditioned building, and drink a cold beverage to bring your temperature down and avoid heat stroke. If you become ill, seek medical help.

Dr. Mark Melroseis a board-certified emergency physician at Urgent Care Manhattan. E-mail him your questions at askdrmark@metro.us.

 
 
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