UAB doctor offers tips for handling the heat

By Melanie Posey

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Whether it's walking, mowing, or more strenuous activity, it's important to consider the amount of time you give it in this heat.  

"If it is someone who never goes out and they decide to mow the lawn, they'll be hot, weak and dizzy maybe within 30 minutes to an hour, "says Dr. Bobby Lewis, an ER doctor at UAB.  "If it's someone who works outside every day and they've been able to hydrate well gotten accustomed to the temperatures it may be out there for a few hour hours before they have symptoms."  

Lewis says before folks head out to do work in this heat, they should also consider their age, underlying illnesses and medications they are taking.  He says it is important to recognize symptoms when they set in.  

"Very often the first thing a person notices is lightheadedness, dizziness, and not uncommon to get heat cramps, where the whole body cramps up."  Next comes heat exhaustion, where the person gets dehydrated to the point of not being able to function anymore.  "And heat stroke is the worst thing," says Lewis. "That's when a person loses the ability to sweat and regulated the temperature at all."    

He also says it is important drink plenty of water and sports drinks which carry those all important electrolytes.  And fresh fruit we all love, eat plenty of that too. It has that potassium we need.  The main way to know if you are staying hydrated is by your urination levels.  Dr. Lewis says if you are going frequently, like at least every couple of hours, you are doing good.

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