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With excessive heat, doctors warn of dehydration and even heatstroke

Posted at 9:41 AM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 11:56:57-04

SALT LAKE CITY — As temperatures are expected to top 110 degrees in some places of Utah this week, Intermountain Healthcare clinicians are warning people to know the signs of dehydration and other heat-related illnesses.

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.”

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.

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
  • Dizziness
  • 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.