Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/20/2020 --As excessive heat warnings are in place in many parts of the nation -- temperatures are expected to top 112 degrees in some parts of Utah this week -- Intermountain Healthcare clinicians are encouraging caution and educating people to know the signs of dehydration and other heat-related illnesses.
The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for a majority of Utah, as well as many other areas of the southwest. An excessive heat warning is issued when there are consecutive days of triple digit temperatures that are significantly above average for the region. It also typically means there won't be much relief overnight.
Drinking plenty of water, eating a proper diet, and avoiding strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day are the simplest ways to avoid having problems, according to Intermountain sports dietitian Ashley Hagensick.
Hagensick says the most common misstep is not drinking enough fluids.
"Normally we recommend consuming half your body weight in ounces of fluid, not just water," said Hagensick. "When you get to temperatures this high and you're outside, the body is going to sweat out even more, so you'll have to replenish faster."
A simple trick, according to Hagensick is to carry a water bottle so you can take drinks throughout the day. Even a small amount of sodium can help your cells better absorb fluids. The recommendation is about 110-220mg per eight ounces of fluids. Sports drinks can also do the same thing and add electrolytes when consumed in moderation.
Eating more fruits and vegetables also helps because they're high in water content and count towards fluid consumption, especially summer favorites like melons, peaches, and grapes.
"Proper nutrition is a vital step to avoid issues with high temperatures," said Hagensick.
Even with these steps people who work and recreate outside can still suffer from dehydration and heat related illnesses.
There are several types of heat-related illnesses including, mild issues like heat rash or heat cramps. The more extreme cases include heat exhaustion and even heatstroke, which can be fatal.
Symptoms for heat exhaustion and heatstroke include:
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale, and clammy skin
- Muscle cramps
- Fast, weak pulse
- Nausea or vomiting
If a person has any of these symptoms, Hagensick notes it's important to rest in a cool, shaded location, and drink plenty of water.
A more severe symptom of heatstroke is a body temperature of 103 degrees or higher, and in that case a person should cool down quickly, either in an ice bath or using ice packs, and seek immediate emergency medical attention.
The best way to avoid heat-related illnesses is to exercise in the early morning or late evenings, and if possible avoid being outside during the hottest parts of the day which are between 3 and 5 pm.
"Try to do any physical activities away from concrete or artificial turf. These surfaces tend to soak up more of the suns energy and can increase the heat in the area by several degrees," Hagensick added.
Physicians, clinicians, and experts encourage people to plan ahead and know that in temperatures like these people may have to deviate from their normal routine to avoid dehydration and heat illness.
About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. For more information, see intermountainhealthcare.org.