News 8 On-Call: Heat-Related Illnesses


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – News 8 is On Call for you. This time, we have the answers to the most frequently asked questions about heat-related illnesses. Specifically, heat stroke versus heat exhaustion.

Dr. Vic Parwani, Medical Director of the Adult Emergency Department at Yale New Haven Hospital, expects a steady stream of patients this weekend with blistering temperatures in the forecast.

He says, “Certainly the very young, under two, the very old, your risk does go up but really, everyone is at risk from the heat.”

Among frequently asked questions from patients:

What is heat stroke?

“Heat stroke is when the heat affects the brain to the point where one becomes confused,” explains Dr. Parwani, “Confusion is a warning sign of heat stroke, not sweating is a warning sign of heat stroke and that is a true medical emergency.

Treatment for heat stroke?

He answers, “Heat stroke is a medical emergency treatment, it’s something that needs to be in a hospital and aggressive cooling measures would be needed for heat stroke.”

What is heat exhaustion?

“Heat exhaustion is a term often used to describe people who have muscle pain, fatigue from being out in the heat for an extended period of time,” he says.

What can be done when heat exhaustion sets in?

Dr. Parwani says, “The first thing you would want to do is get to an air conditioned environment, get to a cool environment, drink lots of cold fluids, more than you normally would.”

What about heat cramps?

“Heat cramps are muscle cramps,” he says, “That you can get simply from being out in the sun or out in the heat for too long. The treatment for those heat cramps is before you go out even, the preventative treatment is to drink a lot of fluids, drink twice as much as you normally would. Once you’re having them, it’s rest and fluids.”

Can medications increase the risk for heat-related illnesses?

He answers, “Certainly diuretics, heart medications and commonly, people outside drinking. So you have to careful with that. Both alcohol and caffeine should be avoided, those both commonly put you at more risk from heat for heat related injury.”

How much water should I drink?

“No less than eight or 10 glasses of water a day,” says Dr. Parwani, “Eight or 10 ounces of water a day, and if you’re really going to be outside, I might even go as far as doubling that.”

Dr. Parwani prescribes staying indoors when possible. And consider getting medical treatment if symptoms do not improve.

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