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Beat the heat: Pensacola nurse offers tips to avoid heat-related illnesses

Beat the heat: Pensacola nurse offers tips to avoid heat-related illnesses

Sunny skies and warmer temperatures are what you expect in Florida, but the mixture of heat and humidity in recent days has made it unbearable outside.

Medical professionals, like Susanne Meaney, often see the effects of summer as patients are rushed to nearby hospitals suffering from the heat.

"What we see in this area is very commonly heat exhaustion," Meaney said. "That's your elderly, your children, people we that we call in the urgent care weekend warriors."

Meaney is a nurse practitioner at Baptist Medical Park - Airport Health Care, an urgent care facility.

She said heat exhaustion is not something to take lightly.

"The heat exhaustion would be you're hot, you're sweaty, you're tired, you're fatigued, you're dizzy, maybe you feel like you're going to pass out," she said.

Experts say the dangers of heat-related illnesses are real.

"700 people die of heat related illnesses per year in Florida," Meaney said.

Drinking water prior to stepping outside is the best way to keep from overheating.

"Also one child dies every nine days in a car -- a hot car," she said.

Medical experts note heatstroke as the most serious form of heat injury, when one's temperature reaches 104 degrees.

"You can have neurological changes which is an absolute emergency, you would need to get your patient to the emergency room immediately because there is a 30 minute window," Meaney said.

She also says keeping hydrated is the best defense against higher temperatures.

"If you're not thirsty you can still be dehydrated so drink, drink, drink," she said.

Keeping in the shade when temperatures are at their peak is also a must.

"Shade, rest, fluids," Meaney said.

In addition, urging athletes to eat a healthy diet, one that includes lean proteins and healthy carbohydrates.

"Diabetes and hypertension are two very important risk factors for heat related illnesses and also just being deconditioned," Meaney said.

The good news is, experts like Meaney said the most common forms of heat-related illness can be easily prevented.

"It's 100 percent preventable."


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