Last updateFri, 15 Mar 2019 3pm

Heat stroke, exhaustion are real threats

The breeze in Guadalajara and around Lake Chapala can be deceptive, making many, especially newcomers and visitors, think they have little to fear from the sun.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. With the city’s altitude and its location south of the Tropic of Cancer and north of the equator, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious problems and can be fatal. You don’t have to be taking part in an Olympic competition to sweat. Just walking down the street or driving the car in the midday heat causes the loss of body fluids through perspiration. It isn’t long before the body’s internal cooling system runs out of coolant unless it is regularly replenished. Lost with the fluids are the salts – sodium, potassium and calcium – vital to maintaining muscle control and heartbeat regularity.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke strike rapidly and without warning. A heat exhaustion victim will feel the following: Hot flashes, chills, dizziness, nausea, sweats, difficulty seeing and headaches. Anyone in the sun feeling this way should get in the shade immediately, remain immobile until the symptoms pass, and continually consume fluids for the rest of the day. Getting extra rest and drinking more for the next two or three days is a good precautionary measure.

Heat stroke is much more serious. The victim does not sweat but becomes hot and dry, and may become unconscious. Cool the victim as rapidly as possible. Remove his clothing and apply cold clothes to the body, or cold liquid to the pulse points at the wrist, elbows, neck and ankles. Anyone with heat stroke should be taken to a doctor as soon as possible. Intravenous fluids may be administered. The victim may be forced to drink large quantities of fluids if that is possible. Rest is mandatory.

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