Summertime is in full swing, which means emergency departments see an increase in heat illness cases.
"I think we've probably seen two or three a day during this real hot spell,” said Dr. Gordy Leingang, an Emergency Department doctor with CHI St. Alexius. Temperatures inside of cars can increase more than a degree a minute, getting as hot as 160 degrees. With says in these kinds of temperatures, it doesn't take long for the problem to get out of hand.
"That which distinguishes heat exhaustion or something fairly benign to heat stroke which is truly dangerous cause literally at that point the brain is being cooked at that point. It can happen over a very short period,” said Dr. Leingang. Depending on things like your metabolism and how much activity you do outside, you could sweat as much as two liters per hour. While anyone outside is at risk, those taking medications for things like blood pressure, or the elderly and children in general are at greatest risk for heat stroke.
"That's on this end of the spectrum. That person, if not attended to immediately is going to die. And so what differentiates heat stroke from heat exhaustion, heat cramps and mild heat exhaustion is the fact that they will have mental status change," said Dr. Leingang.
Wearing light clothing, hydrating and staying in the shade can help prevent a visit to the ER. Staying inside and out of the sun is the best way to protect yourself, but if you have to be outside, make sure you have plenty of water.
Andrew Horn Reporting