KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As the temperatures start to heat up, the Knox County Health Department has several warnings for those looking to enjoy the season.
KCHD officials started by reviewing the most common heat-related illnesses, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Some of the symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, cold, pale, and clammy skin, a fast but weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, tiredness, dizziness, headache, and fainting, according to the CDC.
Dr. Megan Edwards, the county’s Public Health Officer, also spoke about how the line between these two illnesses can easily be blurred, saying the symptoms for each can overlap. The largest and most obvious symptoms that differ and people should watch out for include a person’s body temperature being above 103 degrees, hot, red, dry, or damp skin, and a fast but strong pulse.
As for how to respond, Dr. Edwards said in the case of heat exhaustion, a person needs to sip water and move to a cool space. As for heat stroke, she said not to waste any time and call 911 immediately. She also stated that giving a person water in the case of a heat stroke can do more harm than good.
Edwards also spoke about how these two illnesses can vary among different ages.
“With younger children and with older adults, they may not be able to tell you as quickly that they don’t feel great, you just need to be on alert for those changes in behavior,” Edwards said. “The other piece is encouraging your family to have routine breaks, to have drinks, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to have a drink.”
In addition to staying hydrated and keeping cool, skin protection carries extra importance in the hot summer sun. Edwards said it’s not a “one size fits” all approach when it comes to which SPF sunscreen to use. However, she did say for the youngest in our community, she recommended using anywhere from a 50 to 75 SPF sunscreen with Zinc and UVAB.
She says lathering up now will have a big payoff in the future.
“This is the biggest thing that leads to skin aging, as well as the biggest risk factor for skin cancer,” she stated. “Any sun damage under the age of 18 increases the risk of skin cancer later in life.”
Edwards also said any extra barriers against the sun can be helpful, such as long sleeves and hats, as well as being sure to reapply sunscreen as needed.
Dr. Edwards also touched on water safety, saying it’s important to take the proper safety precautions whether in the pool or on one of the Tennessee waterways.
“Most drownings happen when there is not swim time, but when the area of water is accessible to kids who are not supposed to be there,” she said. “The big thing with prevention there is making sure your kids can have swim lessons and have some idea of what to do if they were to accidentally fall in the water.”