Heat Exhaustion

hotHeat exhaustion presents with symptoms such as rapid pulse and heavy sweating and is a result of overheating. There are three syndromes related to heat: heat cramps are the mildest, heat exhaustion sits between this and heatstroke.

The cause of heat exhaustion can be due to exposure to high temperatures, this is a particular issue when it is combined with high humidity, as well as strenuous physical activity. Heat exhaustion is preventable, however, without treatment it can lead to heatstroke, this is a life threatening condition.

The symptoms could develop over time, or suddenly and include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Faintness
  • Moist and cool skin that is goose bumped in heat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Headache
  • Nausea

If you believe you are experiencing heat exhaustion stop physical activity and rest in a cool place, drink plenty of water or sports drinks. If your symptoms are worsening, or do not improve within an hour then contact your doctor. If your body temperature is 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher seek medical attention immediately.

Your body regulates its heat gain and heat loss from the environment in order to sustain its core temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The body heat is combined with environmental heat to create your core, or internal, temperature.

One of the ways our bodies regulate our heat in hot weather is by sweating. When you subject your body to strenuous exercise in hot and humid weather your body struggles to cool itself efficiently.

Consequently, your body could develop heat cramps, the mildest heat related illness. The symptoms of heat cramps are fatigue, thirst, muscle cramps and heavy sweating. To prevent this from developing into heat exhaustion drink fluids, or electrolyte packed sports drinks, find shade or a cooler temperature and rest.

There are other causes of heat cramp, that can include dehydration, alcohol use, and overdressing.

While anyone can be the victim of heat exhaustion, there are certain factors which increase heat sensitivity.

  • Age- children younger than the age of 4, and adults over 65 are at a greater risk of heat exhaustion. Children’s bodies are not fully developed thus unable to regulate temperature. For older adult’s slight illness, medications and other factors can make them more susceptible to heat exhaustion.
  • Drugs- there are a number of medications that can affect the body’s ability to remain hydrated. They include tranquilizers, allergy medicines, beta blockers, diuretics, as well as antipsychotics. Additionally, there are a number of illegal drugs like amphetamines and cocaine that actually increase the core temperature.
  • Obesity- your body retains more heat when you are carrying extra weight, as it affects the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
  • Sudden changes in temperature- if you have travelled to a warmer climate and you are not used to dealing with heat then you are at a greater risk of heat exhaustion.
  • High Heat Index- this is a temperature value that takes the outdoor temperature and humidity level into account. If humidity is high your sweat won’t evaporate as easily, therefore your body can’t cool itself properly. This leaves you at risk for heat exhaustion. When the heat index reaches 91 degrees Fahrenheit or higher you are at risk.

If heat exhaustion is left untreated it can result in heatstroke, heatstroke is a life threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. It can lead to permanent brain damage, as well as shut down major organs.

Medical personnel will take your temperature to confirm the diagnosis as well as to rule out heatstroke. If they suspect heatstroke you will be given: a blood test, a urine test, imaging tests, and muscle function tests.

In the majority of cases you can treat your own heat exhaustion. Rest in a cool place, drink non-alcoholic fluids that contribute to hydration, use cool towels on your skin, remove unnecessary clothing and only wear loose and lightweight clothing. If this doesn’t improve you within an hour you will need intravenous fluids for rehydration.
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Your best bet, however, is to take steps to ensure that you do not succumb to any heat related illnesses.

  • Choose light colored clothing that is loose-fitting and lightweight. Dark, tight clothing attracts and holds heat in which doesn’t allow your body to cool properly.
  • Apply sunscreen and wear a hat. avoiding sunburn is an excellent way to protect yourself, as sunburn limits your body’s ability to regulate its heat.
  • Seek shade. If you can manage to spend some time in an air conditioned building for a few hours that is ideal, however, if your home or vacation spot doesn’t have AC head to the store/mall. If none of this is possible, look for shade.
  • If you’re on the job, there should be a job safety analysis worksheet outlining any steps you should take for that particular task.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids is vital to maintaining a normal body temperature, and avoid alcohol. If you have a health condition that requires you to limit your fluid intake, then check with your doctor to be sure how much extra fluids you will need to drink.
  • Watch your medications. Check with your pharmacist, or doctor, about whether your medication leaves you susceptible to heat exhaustion and ask what you can do to counteract that.
  • Dodge hot spots. Once your car has been left parked in the heat the temperature rises as much as 20 degrees in only 10 minutes. So before you drive anywhere give your car time to cool down. Never leave anyone (child, adult, or animal) in a parked car in hot weather, regardless of the length of time.
  • Give your body time to acclimatize. If you’re heading somewhere hot your body needs time to get used to it, so don’t attempt any strenuous activities until your body is used to it.

You should always avoid strenuous activity in hot weather, if you live in a hot climate opt for an early morning or evening workout to take advantage of the break in heat. If you have no choice but to engage in vigorous activities, then make sure you take regular breaks in order to drink fluids so that your body can regulate its temperature.

Controlling Your Temper With Road Rage

trafficThe majority of us have encountered some form of road rage, whether on the receiving end or the one shaking a fist. It can be absolutely terrifying to view and the statistics back up how dangerous road rage truly is.

According to the NHTSA 94% of traffic accidents are caused by human error. Of all of those, 33% of them are linked to road rage like behaviors. For instance: misunderstanding the intent of other drivers, or illegal maneuvers.

The AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety completed a study in 1990 and reviewed over 10,000 accidents that were linked to driver violence. They discovered that, over a 7-year period, over 12,500 injuries could be linked to driver violence. Those incidents resulted in 218 deaths that could be linked to road rage, and that most of those were deliberate murders carried out by angry drivers. Unfortunately, that number has been rising steadily- 7% every year.

Aggressive driving has been linked to 66% of recent traffic fatalities, and 37% were caused by a firearm as opposed to a collision.

Many drivers move from victim to aggressor in response to angry drivers, and half of drivers admitted as much in an AAA poll. This leads to more accidents, and more deaths. It may feel good in that moment, but seeking retribution escalates minor incidents to dangerous driving. It is not only you that you put at risk when you engage in this behavior, but everyone on the road.

There are a number of ways to avoid road rage, and many are in your hands to prevent a situation from arising. By following the rules of the road and being a courteous driver you limit the risk. Slow driving in the fast lane, tailgating, and cutting people off are sure fire ways to incite anger.

If you are on the receiving end of someone’s rage, do not engage. Let them have plenty of room to move away from you, do not make eye contact and stay in a populated area. The most important step is to remain calm in order to diffuse the situation, rather than escalating it, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

While the behavior of other drivers can trigger outbursts, it is more to do with stress issues at work, or at home.

It is important to never take it personally. If someone drives badly that has nothing to do with you, it wasn’t personal that they cut you off or crowded you out of your lane. It could have been a momentary lapse of concentration, or they could be driving stressed or angry. However, it is their problem, not yours. You were not the cause of it and it is your choice to remain calm and not escalate the problem.

You can be a compassionate driver. Have you ever made a mistake while driving, or gotten behind the wheel to drive to an emergency, a funeral, or a stressful meeting? There could be a number of reasons for people driving badly, so rather than jumping to the conclusion that someone is a moron and getting angry about it- cut them some slack. You never know what someone else is going through, and understanding that could play a part in their driving it allows you to remain calm.

Visualize peace. This works whether you’re driving or not. Repeating positive affirmations is a great way to reduce your stress.

Just because you are a good driver, or you have made the decision to be a courteous driver… doesn’t mean everyone has. Don’t expect other drivers to behave as you expect them to. The reason we need to remain so aware on the road is because we never know how other drivers will react. Some people are rude, and as a result some people are rude drivers. Unfortunately, that is just a fact of life.

There are consequences of road rage. Yes, it feels amazing to let our frustrations out, but just consider how road rage feels: stressed, tense, angry, your heart rate increases and your blood pressure rises. You could end up destroying someone else’s car, or your own, it could lead to a criminal record, jail, potentially losing your job, as well as the cost of your insurance increasing. Not to mention that it could result in an accident in which you or others are injured or killed, or worse: it could escalate outside of the vehicle and result in violence.

Look at those consequences and tell me that indulging a moment of road rage is worth it?

Instead, you should remain calm and feel happier, reduce your risk of accident, injury or death, you won’t be heading to jail, walking away with a criminal record, or dealing with all of the added stresses that come with the consequence of road rage.

Consider the facts of road rage: over a third of road rage incidents involve firearms, it has been the cause of over 12,000 injuries that could have been prevented, and every year 1,500 people die because of road rage.

While men are the more likely gender to experience daily road rage, men between 35 and 50 are the most susceptible. September is the month where most incidents occur, and Tuesdays at 5:45 are also statistically higher.

People who indulge in road rage see it as a personal threat to them, and their families- that’s what 60% of drivers surveyed said. Speeding is considered aggressive driving and when surveyed only 14% of drivers felt that driving 10 miles over the limit was extremely dangerous. Of those drivers that fall into the unsafe category 62% of them have not been stopped by police over the last year.

Not only are aggressive drivers more likely to drink and drive, they are also more likely to drive without securing their seat belt. Unfortunately, the statistics aren’t likely to improve as over 90% of Americans drive every day and 40 hours of their year are spent in traffic jams. 56% of men said they feel road rage on a daily basis, while 44% of women say the same. Unfortunately, there are no official road rage statistics as no government agency tracks these incidents, so the most recent data is from 1997.

How To Avoid Rattlesnake Attacks

rattlesnake

Found throughout the North and South Americas, rattlesnakes are large and venomous snakes. The greatest concentration of rattlesnakes around found in the Southwest of the United States, and Northern Mexico. Arizona is home to the most species, with 13 different types of rattlers. The feature that all of the rattlesnake species share is: the rattle.

Anyone living in these areas has most likely heard the distinctive rattle and knows fine well that it is a warning that you are encroaching on their territory. The rattle is made up of keratin segments that fit inside one another loosely at the end of the tail. The rattle sound is produced when the rattlesnake holds the tail vertically and vibrates the rattle. When rattlesnakes shed a layer of skin they add another segment to their rattle.

Zoologists at the San Diego Zoo believe the rattlesnake to be the newest, thus most evolved, snake in the world. So it makes perfect sense that scientists consider the rattle to be the most sophisticated warning system. They also hiss, similar to how a cat does. Rattlesnakes utilize their rattle and hiss to warn people away; snakes are deaf, thus the hiss is a warning for other animals, not snakes.

Rattlesnakes range in size from as small as one foot up to 8 feet, dependent on the species. Thick bodied with ridged scales, rattlesnakes come in a variety of patterns and colors. The majority of the species feature dark diamond patterns on a lighter background. In addition to the rattle, they also have facial pits that are heat sensing, hinged fangs, triangular heads and vertical pupils (again, like a cat). Young rattlesnakes have yet to grow their rattles, however they are still as dangerous, if not more so, as the adult is. Moreover, adults can lose their rattles- so the triangular head is the indicator you could look out for.

Rattlesnakes are incredibly adaptable and can flourish in a variety of environments. However, they are mostly found in desert sands, grasslands, rocky hills and scrub brush. Additionally, in the meadows of the Northeast and the swamplands of the Southeast. They can be found at sea level, right up to 11,000 feet.

They generally create dens in rocky crevices and those dens service multiple generations of rattlesnakes. In fact, rattlesnakes can use the same den for over 100 years! They leave dens to sunbathe on rocks, or other open places, and though they aren’t nocturnal they tend to be more active in the evening during the hottest months. In addition to the hissing and rattling, they tend to exhibit other defensive behavior such as coiling their bodies and raising their heads.

They mate during the spring and summer; thus males frequently engage in combat. They carry their babies for around 3 months, give birth to live babies and then slither away immediately after the birth. They give birth every two years and generally have 10 babies. They can live for up to 25 years.

Rattlesnakes lie in wait for their prey, and their favorite foods are lizards and small rodents. They strike quickly, using their venom to paralyze their prey and then swallow them whole. They eat every around every two weeks.

If you encounter a rattlesnake it is likely that you have caught them hunting for lunch, or heading for a sunbathe. You are most likely to be bitten by a rattlesnake when stepping on them accidently. They can be fatal, however with proper medical treatment the bites are usually not serious.

The symptoms of a venomous bite include: temporary, or permanent, tissue damage, muscle damage, internal bleeding, extreme pain around the bite site, and potentially losing an extremity, or death.

However, a number of species have venom that also contains neurotoxins and those symptoms include vision problems, skeletal muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, difficulty with swallowing and speaking, and potentially respiratory failure. Still, fatal bites from rattlesnakes are rare provided medical treatment is sought immediately.

There are 29 species of rattlesnakes, so how can you avoid falling prey to these beasts?

Use the above tips to know how to identify a rattlesnake, though it should be noted that there are other poisonous snakes. So you should proceed with caution regardless. You should be aware of the area in which you are travelling, especially if you are hiking. Is the area known for rattlesnakes?

Ensure that you wear thick socks and hiking boots of good quality- this will help protect you from the rattlesnake fangs in the event of a run in. Never wear open toe shoes or sandals when you go hiking.

You should never go walking, climbing or hiking without a fully charged cell phone. Always hike with a friend. Don’t poke around rocks, or stick your hands in holes or in brush. Stay on the beaten path.

If camping, always arrive to your campsite in daylight so that you can set up in daylight and fully inspect the area before you set up.

If you have children with you ensure they know to be aware of what is going on around them, and teach them the warning signs of rattlesnakes.

Obey the warning signs- if you hear furious hissing and rattling then know you are in the area of a rattlesnake. Stop immediately and survey the area around you in order to identify the snake’s location.

Understand that rattlesnakes strike quickly, and their strike distance can be up to one half of its total length. If you have encountered a rattle snake and they are hissing and rattling then it is a good bet they are coiled, in this circumstance you will be unable to determine its length. You should remain calm, turn around and slowly walk away.

If you have been bitten keep the bite lower than the heart- elevating the bite will spread the venom more rapidly. Remove rings, as venom can cause swelling. Call 911 and wait for assistance.