How to detect heat illnesses in kids and teens

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Watching for heat-related illnesses
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Texas Children's Hospital has the signs you should watch for to detect heat-related illnesses.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- As the mercury rises this weekend and all throughout the summer, parents and coaches need to keep an extra eye out for heat related illnesses with kids and teens. Would you know if your child is showing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke?

The statistics are alarming. Dr. Kay Leaming-Van Zandt is the Medical Director of Texas Children's Hospital West Campus Emergency Center. She said "from 1999 to 2009, the CDC found that there were 7000 heat related deaths in the United States."

There are a few stages of heat related illnesses we should be aware of, starting with a mild illnesses such as heat cramps.

Usually starting in the larger muscle areas like the hamstrings. If that occurs, you should act accordingly.

"They need to be removed from the hot environment and into a cooler area. And from there slowly sipping cool fluids," Dr. Leaming-Van Zandt explained.

If those symptoms are ignored, it could lead to heat exhaustion.

"Those children will usually have headaches, dizziness or light-headedness, nausea, vomiting and muscle weakness," Dr. Leaming-Van Zandt said.

Also watch for elevated body temperatures up to 104 degrees

"Get them to drink and hydrate. If they're unable to because of nausea and vomiting, then they should seek medical care immediately," Dr. Leaming-Van Zandt told us.

After prolonged high temperature exposure, the risk factors for heat stoke could increase. If the body stops sweating, that's a major red flag.

"They'll also have central nervous system affects as well. They'll have unresponsiveness or lethargy, as well as decreased activity. They may also have seizure like activity," Dr. Leaming-Van Zandt said.

If that occurs, seek medical attention immediately. Bottom line, many heat related illnesses can be avoided. The key is to take necessary breaks and hydrate often throughout the day.