Heat illness common before 100 degree temps arrive

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by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist Christian Garcia

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on June 10, 2013 at 5:15 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 10 at 5:21 PM

AUSTIN -- As the Central Texas temperatures inch closer and closer to triple digits, we start thinking about the dangers the rising temperatures may bring. It may surprise you to learn you're more susceptible to heat-related illnesses now. One Bastrop woman knows that first hand.

Three weeks ago Lacee Goode and her husband went hiking in McKinney Falls State Park.

"It was in the high 90s that day," said Goode. "It was a very sunny, beautiful day. I felt great right up to the point when it hit me."  

A four-hour hike turned into just a three-hour tour when the heat got the better of her.

"I started feeling really, really bad," she said. "I had nausea, dizziness. I felt very weak."

Robert Greenberg, M.D., is vice chair and assistant professor of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Scott & White. He is also the medical director and chief of staff at Cedar Park Emergency Hospital. Greenberg says heat-related illnesses cover a broad spectrum starting with something as simple as just feeling bad.

"They can have the headaches and those sort of things," said Greenberg. "Progressively they get to feeling worse. They may notice they're not sweating any more. Then they get to a point where they're so confused, they can't tell their own symptoms."  

Greenberg says that's when the symptoms can start to mimic a neurological stroke. He says emergency rooms tend to see most of their heat-related cases when temperatures first start to rise, like right now.

"In the middle of summer people have either acclimated to it, or they realize just how hot it is," said Greenberg. "When the weather changes people just don't think ahead about what can happen to them."  

That's exactly what happened to the 27-year-old Goode.

"I'm very active, and I work out," she said. "Nothing like that has ever happened to me before, so I thought I would be fine. The heat doesn't care how old you are, or how in shape you are, or how fit you are. It's more important to stay hydrated and also to recognize the symptoms and to act on it quickly before it becomes not just heat exhaustion but turns into heat stroke."

Dr. Greenberg agrees proper hydration is key during any outdoor activity, especially when it's this hot and humid. He says humans are not camels, so there's only so much water or sports drinks our body can store. He advises not loading up on too much fluid, and make sure you hydrate regularly from start to finish.

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