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SUMMER: Heat Related Illnesses

The body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating just isn't enough. Body temperature can rise to dangerous levels and a person can develop a heat illness. Most heat illnesses occur from staying out in the heat too long. Exercising too much for age and physical condition are also factors. Older adults, young children and those who are sick or overweight are most at risk. Drinking fluids to prevent dehydration, replenishing salt and minerals, and limiting time in the heat can help.

Heat-related illnesses include

  • Heatstroke - a life-threatening illness in which body temperature may rise above 106° F in minutes; symptoms include dry skin, rapid, strong pulse and dizziness
  • Heat exhaustion - an illness that can precede heatstroke; symptoms include heavy sweating, rapid breathing and a fast, weak pulse
  • Heat cramps - muscle pains or spasms that happen during heavy exercise
  • Heat rash - skin irritation from excessive sweating


In addition, individuals using Psychiatric Medication are subseptible to heat illnesses because the medication may interfere or impair the body's natural response to heat.

Common psychotropic medications that may impair the heat response :

Trade Name Generic Name Trade Name Generic Name
Abilify aripiprazole Elavil amitriptyline
Asendin amoxapine Effexor venlafaxine
Artane trihexyphenidyl Eskalith, Lithobid, Lithonate lithium
Aventyl, Pamelor nortriptyline Fanapt iloperidone
Benadryl diphenhydramine Fetzima levomilnacipran
Brintellix vortioxetine Geodon ziprasidone
Celexa citalopram Haldol haloperidol
Clozaril, Fazaclo, Versacloz clozapine Invega paliperidone
Cogentin benztropine Lexapro escitalopram
Cymbalta duloxetine Navane thiothixene
Desyrel, Oleptro trazodone Norpramin desipramine
Loxitane loxapine Paxil paroxetine
Latuda lurasidone Phenergan promethazine
Pristiq desvenlafaxine Prozac fluoxetine
Prolixin fluphenazine Rexulti brexpiprazole
Risperdal risperidone Seroquel quetiapine
Saphris asenapine Sinequan, Silenor doxepin
Stelazine trifluoperazine Tofranil imipramine
Thorazine chlorpromazine Trilafon perphenazine
Wellbutrin, Zyban bupropion Viibryd vilazodone
Vrylar cariprazine Zoloft sertraline
Zyprexa olanzapin *Note: This is not an all-inclusive list.



There are ways to stay cool when the temperature is 85 degrees and above, especially with high humidity:

In general:
• Try to stay in cool places.
• Eat regular light meals.
• Drink plenty of fluids.
• Avoid coffee, tea and alcohol. When indoors:
• Spend time in cooler rooms or airconditioned areas. A shopping mall or library provides a cool place.
• Keep windows shut and drapes closed during the day.
• Open windows in the evening when the air outside is cooler.
• Avoid outdoor activity during the warmest parts of the day.
• Take a cool shower or bath.

When outside:
• Apply sunscreen.
• Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
• Wear loose-fitting and light-colored clothing.
• Wear a hat and sunglasses.
• Be aware of your environment (For example, asphalt may be warmer than surrounding air temperature).


Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a mild form of heat-related illness. This can occur while working, playing or resting. It may happen without warning, and it may not last long. Some people may need intravenous fluids so they do not lose consciousness. Heat exhaustion can happen in hot, humid weather, especially if a person does not drink plenty of fluids.

Warning signs of heat exhaustion:
• Heavy sweating
• Paleness
• Muscle cramps
• Tiredness or fainting
• Weakness, dizziness, headache
• Nausea, vomiting

Things to do immediately:
• Move to a cooler place.
• Drink water or other liquids (avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee, soda, tea and alcohol).
• Rest for a short time.
• Take a cool shower, bath, sponge bath.
• Loosen or remove clothing.
• Call a doctor if symptoms persist

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. With heat stroke, you cannot control your body temperature, so the temperature quickly rises. The body is then not able to sweat, and as a result cannot cool down.

Heat stroke can cause death if not treated. Some medical conditions cause greater risk of heat stroke.

Heat Stroke Warning Signs:
• Confusion, unconsciousness, dizziness, nausea
• Body temperature higher than103 degrees Fahrenheit
• Rapid, strong pulse
• Throbbing headache
• Red, hot and dry skin

Seek treatment right away!

• Call 911 immediately. If you are in a hospital, tell the staff.
• Loosen or remove the clothing of the heat stroke victim.
• Move the victim to a cooler spot.
• Cool the victim using cool water.
• Give the victim water to drink only if he/she can talk.
• Call the emergency room for more instructions if help does not come right away


Download the 2017 heat-related illness brochure