ST. GEORGE — With temperatures reaching 110 degrees this week it’s time to take precautions to avoid heat stroke.
Director of the Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism at the University of Montana, Dr. Brent Ruby said proper hydration may not be enough to keep you safe.
Ruby, who is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, has researched nutritional strategies during ultra-endurance work/competition, muscle metabolism during and after exercise, the use of stable isotope tracers for the measure of water turnover and energy expenditure, and issues surrounding heat stress during arduous work.
Differentiating his lab from other labs, Ruby created a solar powered, mobile lab that allows controlled laboratory research to be meshed with raw field data to draw scientific conclusions.
“One can absolutely suffer and even die from heat stroke even when properly hydrated,” Ruby said. “Prevention of heat stroke starts with recognizing our own limits while being active in hot environments. Our bodies are sending us signals to slow down and stop; we just have to know when to say when.”
Each year more than 1,000 people die from heat stroke in the United States. More recent research has proven that while proper hydration is important, the key step to heat-stroke prevention is to recognize when one is working too hard for the given environment and slowing down or stopping.
How to recognize your symptoms
- Heat cramps with symptoms including painful muscle aches
- Heat exhaustion with symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst and heavy sweating.
If one doesn’t take steps to cool down heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke when the body becomes overwhelmed and is unable to regulate its core temperature.
How to recognize others symptoms
Symptoms of heat stroke include, sweating stops and the victim may become confused, lose consciousness and have seizures. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that may result in death.
“In cases of HRI (heat related illness) that are developed during exertional heat stress, the individual is working too hard for the environment they are in and likely thinks — if I can stay hydrated, I will be fine,” Ruby said. “But, that’s the wrong thinking. Even aggressive hydration strategies that attempt to match fluid loss one-to-one will not prevent the HRI. Knowing when to stop is the crucial step in prevention of heat stroke.”
Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:
- Infants and young children
- People aged 65 or older
- People who have a mental illness
- Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure
A study by the Health Studies Branch within the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said if your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot. Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol, or large amounts of sugar—these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
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