Jreydon Schreppel cools off at the Splash Pad in Liberty Park during a Salt Lake City heatwave on Monday, June 14, 2021. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
MURRAY – This week’s heat wave has worried doctors in Utah about health effects, especially for children and people with lung diseases, including those caused by previous COVID-19 infections.
Heat-related diseases can be “catastrophic” during prolonged heat waves, as Europe has recently seen, said Dr. Adam Balls, an emergency doctor at Intermountain Medical Center
“And even death can result from that, so it’s really about banding together as a community to make sure we take care of each other, we take care of ourselves. As a parent, you take care of your children,” said.
Salt Lake City hit a record 102 degrees on Monday afternoon – the highest for that date since 1974, according to the National Weather Service.
Balls said doctors in Utah had seen an increase in cases of heat illness recently.
Young children and older adults tend to be more prone to illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke, he said. Younger children are unable to keep themselves hydrated, Balls said, and adults need to encourage them to drink water frequently. Parents with children playing soccer or other summer sports should make sure their coaches give them regular drinking breaks.
Children are also at greater risk due to a combination of heat illness and gastrointestinal diseases currently circulating in the community, Balls said.
“The heat in addition to these diseases can only increase the effects of the disease, so it is important that parents only watch their children’s external exposure for the next few days to ensure they have access to water and go back inside to theirs Allowing bodies to cool off, “he said.
Parents should always make sure they do Don’t leave a child in the car while running into a store, said Balls.
When children appear lethargic, do not want to drink water and sleep longer than usual, they may need medical care, he added.
Dr. Denitza Blagev, a pulmonologist at Intermountain Medical Center, said people with lung diseases or conditions should pay particular attention to heat-related symptoms this week. That includes some with “long COVID” respiratory symptoms that they didn’t have before the pandemic, she said.
As with other serious lung conditions, people with long-term coronavirus symptoms are more prone to having difficulty breathing or coughing from heat and ozone, which can irritate the airways and increase inflammation, Blagev said.
When people experience mild symptoms and do something about it early on, “that mild symptom can recover really quickly,” said Blagev.
“If people really try hard because they feel like, ‘I’m going to just finish what I started,’ and ignore these early warning signs, then they can get into trouble and it can take a lot longer it would take a lot more medical care to recover from it, “she said.
People with lung conditions should try to be active in the early hours of the morning or evening rather than during the heat of the day.
“If you get sick and feel like you can’t breathe, take it really seriously,” said Blagev.
She also asked her to take her regular medication.
“So if you have asthma, take your regular inhalers and medication to make sure you’re in good control and have some extra reserve. If you have breathing problems please contact your doctor, and if you really cannot breathe, it would be appropriate to seek medical help in the emergency room, “Blagev said.
Balls encouraged residents to check on their neighbors who may be exposed to heat-related illnesses.
“Although you are fine, maybe your neighbor who is more advanced or not regularly checked by someone, it is important that you look after him and make sure his needs are being met and that he is getting the hydration he needs – and the temperature of the place where they live is reasonable that their air conditioning has not failed and they are not trying to survive very high temperatures in their apartment or home, “Balls said.
When planning a hike, Balls says doctors recommend avoiding long, lengthy hikes in the heat of the day “because it puts you in a situation where you could otherwise be healthy and just have one bad day.” Your body is more prone to disease. ” Those looking to rest shouldn’t just hydrate before an activity – it’s more important to keep drinking water during the activity.
And hydration is important, even when swimming, Balls said. In water, it’s easy to forget that you have to drink water too.
Symptoms of a heat-related illness include muscle cramps and increased fatigue, the doctor noted. If the convulsions last longer than an hour and do not respond to attempts to drink fluids; or if you are changed, confused, or passed out these are signs that you have a more serious heat-related condition and should see a doctor.