THURSDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- With record-breaking heat
searing much of the eastern half of the United States -- and with
little relief in sight -- health experts are urging people to
protect themselves from the threats posed by oppressive
temperatures and humidity.
"The elderly, young children and infants, and people with cardiac disease and those who are taking certain medications, especially antidepressants, are most at risk for a heat stroke," noted Dr. Lisandro Irizarry, chair of the emergency department at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.
"After two or three days of heat, people -- primarily the elderly -- may exhibit signs of dehydration, including lightheadedness, nausea, confusion, difficulty concentrating, and lack of thirst because the body starts conserving fluid," he said.
Dr. Andrew R. Edwards, an associate professor of emergency
medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, agreed that as
the early season heat wave tightens its grip, people young and old
need to focus on staying safe.
In a university news release, Edwards offered these tips:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Alcohol and
caffeine do not count, they will dehydrate you. Stick with water or
- If you must be outside, try to stay in the shade and monitor
- Keep an eye on perspiration. If you stop perspiring, get more
- If you start feeling light-headed or dizzy, this is a sign that
heat-related illness is imminent. Get somewhere cool and
immediately get fluids into your system.
Irizarry noted that antidepressant users may be at heightened
risk because the drug "decreases the skin's ability to lose heat
through evaporation -- sweating -- which is the body's primary
means to get rid of heat." This means that people on these
medications need to be especially careful to drink lots of fluids
and stay cool.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has
- Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
- Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four
glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage
can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. But if you are
on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports
- Electric fans may provide comfort. But when the temperature is
in the high 90s, fans won't ward off heat-related illness. Instead,
take a cool shower or bath, or move to an air-conditioned
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
- While anyone can be stricken with heat-related illness, certain
groups of people are especially vulnerable, including infants and
young children, people 65 and older, those with a mental illness,
and those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or
high blood pressure.
On Wednesday, temperatures soared into the 90s -- and approached
100 degrees -- throughout much of the South, the East and the
Midwest. Baltimore and Washington, D.C. both recorded temperatures
of 99 degrees, breaking records for the date. The normal high for
the date is about 82, the
Associated Press reported.
In Philadelphia the mercury hit 97 degrees, breaking a 2008
record of 95, and Atlantic City, N.J., tied a record of 98 set in
1999. Chicago hit a high of 94 degrees, the
The heat wave has been blamed for the deaths of five elderly
people in Tennessee, Maryland and Wisconsin, the news service
And a new study from Stanford University predicts that scorching
temperatures will become the new normal, with unusually hot summers
by the middle of the century. The culprit cited by the researchers:
global warming, the
For more on protecting yourself from the heat, visit the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and