(KYW) – Of all natural disasters, heat is the number one killer, as tens of millions of Americans continue to face extreme temperatures.
Experts urge everyone to be careful as the temperatures rise because the risk factors increase as well.
Dr. Thomas Waters, who works at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, said the stifling heat can affect your body and mind.
“The combination of high temperatures and high humidity creates the right condition for a heat emergency,” he said.
Two of the most common heat-related conditions are heatstroke and heat exhaustion.
With heatstroke, the body can’t cool itself. A person with heatstroke may sweat profusely or not at all. They can become confused or pass out and could also have a seizure.
Heat exhaustion happens when the body loses too much water or salt through excessive sweating. Symptoms include nausea, dizziness, irritability, thirst, headache and elevated body temperature.
“If somebody notices that in somebody that they’re in the heat with, they need to take action right away and seek help,” Waters said.
Extreme high temperatures can also put significant strain on the heart or make breathing more difficult.
Studies have shown that exposure to extreme heat can also contribute to mental health issues, problems for pregnant women and poor birth outcomes.
To stay safe, Waters said it’s best to stay out of the heat as much as possible.
“You just need to take frequent breaks, you need to hydrate and you need to decrease the intensity of your workload or your workout,” Waters said.
The elderly, children and people with chronic diseases and mental health problems are at the highest risk of heat-related illness, along with people who take certain medicines, according to the CDC.
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