Dangers of heat-related illness

Local News

CHATTAHOOCHEE VALLEY – We are learning more about hyponatremia, which Fort Benning officials say is responsible for the death of 2nd Lt. Michael Parros, 21, who fell ill at Ranger school.  Hyponatremia happens when the salt or sodium levels become too low in the blood.

Dr. Sherri Studstill with Stopwatch Urgent Care says hyponatremia can sometimes be heat-related.

“Heat related hyponatremia comes into play when you think of if people are out in the sun too long or too much and they’re not keeping well hydrated.  They become dehydrated and yes they can develop hyponatremia,” Dr. Studstill said.

Nurse Leslie Noles heat exhaustion is the main heat-related illness they see in urgent care.

“Usually the main symptoms are you stop sweating.  You can get dizzy, nauseous, a feeling of faintness.  Those are some of the warning signs that you should watch out for,” Noles said.

She says it’s more than just the heat we should watch out for.

“We have seen some patients come in with dehydration so, since it’s so humid here we really have to increase our water more than usual,” Noles explained.

Noles says there is a higher risk for a heat-related illness when it’s very humid and the heat index is over 100.

“When the body overheats, it can cause brain damage,” she said.

Noles suggests drinking plenty of water especially if you’re outside.

“If you are going to be outside you want to make sure wear a wide-brimmed hat.  Use at least 15 SPF and make sure it’s waterproof,” Noles said.

She recommends reapplying sunscreen and taking breaks from the sun.  Noles says children are more at risk for a heat-related illness.  She says people with high blood pressure and heart conditions are also at a higher risk for a heat-related illness.

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