Heat exhaustion, heat stroke: How to spot the signs

On days like this you need to know the signs of heat sickness and how it can quickly go from bad to worse.

In fact, 618 people die from heat related illness each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

As for the workers, who can't escape the heat, listening to your body is more important than ever.

Hard labor doesn't stop just because the temperature is a few degrees shy of triple digits.

"The heat just takes it out of you, it just wears you out," says Jonathan Barton, a construction worker for Barton Utilities.

Jonathan works with his father Ron, who has an air conditioned excavator, and even still, that doesn't cool him enough.

"It feels like a sauna out here," says Ron Barton, owner of Barton Utilities.

The Barton men know to treat heat sickness seriously.

"You get sick and you just stop what you're doing and cool down, because if you don't it's going to come," Jonathan says

It being a spell of vomiting, dizziness and confusion known as heat stroke.

"And it's not a stroke like we think of with a blood clot in the brain for example. But it's when the body really loses the ability to regulate its own temperature. So it just keeps getting hotter and hotter as the patient gets sicker and sicker," says Dr. Page Bridges, an Emergency Physician with Greenville Heath System.

She says it all begins with heat cramps, then heat exhaustion where you sweat excessively, your skin gets pale and cool, and you feel weak and nauseous.

Untreated, it can lead to heat stroke which may damage your brain and vital organs.

"And what's dangerous about that is once you reach the point of heat stroke, confusion is a big part of it so you don't have the ability to necessarily call 911 for yourself," Dr. Bridges says.

Part of the problem is all the humidity, your sweat doesn't evaporate as fast.

You're also more likely to suffer if you're over 65, under 5, overweight or on certain medications.

On days like today, you also want to steer clear of sugary drinks, caffeine and alcohol.

The key is water. whether you're just drinking it, or even getting in it.

"I just go home and take a cold shower, cool off and relax," Jonathan says.

If you see someone with heat exhaustion signs, then giving them a drink with electrolytes can be very effective as well.

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