Lakeview Regional offers tips to prevent heat illness during the current excessive heat wave

While getting sweaty and sticky is one uncomfortable side effect of enjoying the South Louisiana sun; it's important to remember that the heat can do more than make you uncomfortable — it can make you sick or worse.

Heatstroke, the most severe form of heat illness, can be fatal if left untreated. According to the CDC, extreme heat caused 10,527 heat-related deaths in the United States from 2004 to 2018, with 90% of those deaths taking place between May and September

"The heat and humidity of South Louisiana have been reaching dangerous levels very quickly,” said Dr. Chad Muntan, Lakeview Regional Emergency Room Director. “We see a rise of heat-related illnesses in the emergency room in young children and the elderly because their body’s natural cooling system adjusts to the heat slower than the average adult., but the good news is, we can prevent most of those cases.”

To stay cool during this heatwave and avoid heatstroke and other heat illnesses, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Never leave children, infants, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are open.
  • Wear lightly colored, lightweight, loosely-fitting clothing to keep cool and comfortable.
  • Plan outdoor activities for the coolest times of day, such as the early morning or later in the evening.

What to do if someone has a heat-related illness

If you spot any signs of heat stroke — such as dry, hot, and red skin; dark urine; extreme confusion; rapid, shallow breathing; or rapid, strong pulse — seek emergency medical care immediately. This condition can be deadly and occurs when the body's temperature rises above 104 degrees, inhibiting the body's ability to sweat. Organs, including the brain, begin to fail, and the body starts to shut down.

Anyone showing signs of heat exhaustion — muscle cramps, heavy sweating, weakness, headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, pale skin color, or fainting — should be taken to a shady or air-conditioned spot and told to lie down. Apply a cold, wet cloth to the wrists, neck, armpits, and groin to help cool the blood. If the person can swallow, give them nonalcoholic fluids, like water or apple juice. Heat exhaustion is less serious and usually results from prolonged exposure to heat and a loss of body fluid. If heat exhaustion goes untreated, it can quickly progress to heat stroke.