Petzold: Heat waves could lead to heat exhaustion


By Leah Landrum [email protected]

Smoothies are a great way to beat the summer heat.

Megan Petzold

Summer in the Midwest can be incredibly humid.

Summer tests our ability to work, move or just go outside into the stifling heat. Everyone has their limit. Whether you are used to 90 degree weather with humidity and a heat index that makes it feel like 105 degrees or prefer our intensely cold winters, your body has ways to tell you when it needs to cool down and take a break.

Doing physical activity in this kind of weather is an easy way to get heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you are outside doing physical activities for an extended period of time, you might feel faint, dizzy, tired, weak or have a headache.

These are all signs of heat exhaustion. To help these symptoms go away, you should stop the activity you are doing, rest in a cooler place and rehydrate yourself with water or some kind of sports drink.

If your symptoms worsen to include vomiting, or the symptoms above last longer than an hour, it would be wise to seek medical attention.

At the hospital, they will rehydrate you and normalize your body’s chemical balances. They will also cool your temperature down to normal and observe you to make sure the symptoms don’t lead to something worse, such as kidney failure. 

These symptoms often arise without any warning. Yet, they can have severe consequences if ignored.

Heat stroke from exercise is one of three leading causes of sudden death in sports. There is a 100 percent survival rate from heat exhaustion when rapid and proper treatment is given, but heat stroke packs bigger and harder punches. The 10-year annual average for heat fatalities between 2006 and 2015 was 97.

The bottom line is that heat related fatalities are all avoidable. It would be devastating to hear more news about a death that could have been prevented with prompt medical attention.

Being in the sun during the summer is inevitable. After all, it is a great time for students to get some vitamin D they might lack during the year.

However, there is a huge difference between enjoying the heat and ignoring your body’s way of telling you that you need to cool down.

The Midwestern heat waves will last into the fall semester. As much fun as it is to be outside with friends, taking breaks to take care of your body is nothing to be ashamed of. Even bringing cold water with you to class will help keep your body temperature and hydration levels within the normal range.