Tips to prevent heat illnesses

In an average year, about 200 Americans die from heat-related illnesses, and during hot summers the toll can double. Many more suffer less severe heat-related problems. The August 2008 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch outlines three threats from the heat, along with simple precautions that can help you protect your health, and potentially your life.

Heat cramps: Heat cramps signal dehydration severe enough to deprive muscles of the extra oxygen they need to exercise. The remedy: slow down, drink cool water, stretch out, and gently massage the muscle.

Heat exhaustion: In heat exhaustion, body temperature is high, often above 103° F. Symptoms include weakness, lethargy, loss of concentration, headache, and nausea. Heat exhaustion impairs mental clarity and judgment, so you may not recognize the problem as it develops. Move to a cool place, remove clothing, apply ice packs if available, and drink cool fluids.

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