LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 25, 2022) – The peak of summer has arrived, bringing outdoor fun and activities, but also extreme temperatures and escalated risk factors. CHI Saint Joseph Health encourages everyone – no matter the age – to make safety a priority this summer.
“The extremely high temperatures we have been seeing raise even more concerns than normal during the season,” said Jessica Fairchild, DO, CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Primary Care. “It’s very important to recognize when the heat is causing physical problems for yourself and others. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can cause very serious health issues.”
Heat stroke, the most severe heat-related illness, can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 degrees F or higher. Heatstroke is most common in the summer months and is caused by your body overheating, usually due to prolonged exposure or physical activity in high temperatures.
Heat stroke requires emergency treatment because it can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles if untreated. Prolonged treatment can also result in serious complications or death.
Symptoms include very high body temperature, headache, dizziness, loss of consciousness flushed skin, rapid breathing and heart rate.
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses an excessive amount of water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. It’s most likely to affect the elderly, people with high blood pressure or those who work in the heat.
Symptoms include heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, a high body temperature, thirst and decreased urination.
For anyone with these symptoms, drink plenty of liquids and get out of the heat, cool down with cold compresses and remove unnecessary clothing, including shoes and socks, and get a medical evaluation and treatment if warranted.
Other Heat-Related Issues
Other conditions can present themselves when individuals are exposed to extreme heat.
For muscle cramps or pain, drink water and have something like a sports drink handy to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes. Don’t use salt tablets.
For heat rash – which typically appears on the neck, chest, groin and in the elbow creases – keep the area dry and apply powder. Avoid ointments and cream.
While heat-related illness are an immediate concern during the summer, the long-term impact of prolonged sun exposure is cumulative. Skin cancer – including melanoma, and basal and squamous cell skin cancer – is the most common cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society reports that 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers, and nearly 100,000 cases of melanoma, are diagnosed annually.
Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. During the summer months, the UV rays are the strongest and cause the most cases of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. UV rays work quickly and can damage unprotected skin in as little as 15 minutes, according to the CDC.
Protect your skin against harmful UV rays by staying in the shade when possible, wearing lightweight long sleeves, hats with a brim wide enough to shade your face and neck, sunglasses and sunscreen. Sunscreen should be applied every two hours or after sweating, swimming or toweling off.
Stay safe this summer by taking the proper precautions and remembering to make your health a priority. To find a health care provider near you, visit www.chisaintjosephhealth.org/find-a-provider.
About CHI Saint Joseph Health
CHI Saint Joseph Health, part of CommonSpirit Health, is one of the largest and most comprehensive health systems in the Commonwealth of Kentucky with 100 locations in 20 counties, including hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes, home health agencies and an ambulatory Care Center. The hospitals in CHI Saint Joseph Health are Flaget Memorial Hospital, Saint Joseph Berea, Saint Joseph East, Saint Joseph Hospital, Saint Joseph Jessamine, Saint Joseph London, Saint Joseph Mount Sterling, and Women’s Hospital at Saint Joseph East. In total, the health system serves patients in 35 counties statewide. CHI Saint Joseph Health is dedicated to providing a wide array of services toward a goal of building a healthier future for all. CHI Saint Joseph Health embodies a strong mission and faith-based heritage and works through local partnerships to expand access to care in the communities it serves.
About Saint Joseph Medical Group
CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group is the employed provider network of CHI Saint Joseph Health with 88 locations in 17 communities throughout central and eastern Kentucky.