By Smarty Guest Blogger Holly G. Smith, MD FAAP, Signature Pediatrics
The heat and humidity of summer are finally upon us! For most of us, that means we will spend our days in air-conditioned offices and houses, or go to the pool to cool off with the kids. Here in Charlotte, we are used to finding ways to beat the heat. Still, every year some people suffer from heat-related illness, so in these “Dog Days” of summer it is important to review how to keep your children safe in the heat. three forms of heat-related illness:
1. Heat Cramps
One of the first signs of heat-related illness may be heat cramps. These are generally brief, intense muscle cramps in the legs, arms, or abdomen that may occur during or after vigorous exercise in extreme heat. The sweating that occurs with intense physical activity causes the body to lose salts and fluids. This low level of salts causes the muscles to cramp. Any child with heat cramps should stop physical activity, move to a cool place, and drink plenty of water or a sports drink. They should not resume activity for several hours after the cramps have gone away.
2. Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is a more severe heat illness that can occur when someone has not been drinking enough fluids while in the heat. Symptoms can include headache, weakness or dizziness, nausea, heavy sweating, cool and clammy skin, muscle cramps, and fainting. If any of these occur, the child should be taken to a cool place, excess clothing should be removed, and cool, wet cloths placed on the skin. Water or sports drinks should be given. Medical help and IV fluids may be needed if the child develops vomiting or symptoms do not resolve within several minutes. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can develop into heatstroke, which can be fatal.
3. Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Symptoms and signs of heat stroke include headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, skin that is red, hot and dry, and a fast, strong pulse. Loss of consciousness may also occur. In heat stroke the body temperature is elevated more than 103 degrees. If this occurs, 911 should be called immediately. Every attempt should be made to cool off the victim, whether with cool, wet cloths. The person may also be sprayed with water from a hose or placed in a shallow tub of water for cooling.
How can we prevent heat-related illnesses? First and foremost, stay hydrated. Offer children water frequently, and make sure athletes drink plenty of fluids before and during practices. Wear light- weight loose clothing, and pace activity. Be sure to educate your athlete about the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses as well as the importance of alerting his/her coach if any of these symptoms develop.
A special note about heat stroke in infants and toddlers—the most common reason for heat illness in this age group is being left in a parked car. Even if the window is cracked open, the temperature inside the car can rise very rapidly, and a child’s body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s. If you travel with an infant or young child, putting your purse or briefcase in the back seat next to the child’s car seat will act as a reminder to be sure you do not accidentally leave a sleeping child in the car. This is one of many reasons never to leave a child alone in a parked car!
Why Concierge Pediatrics?
Concierge pediatrics is a better approach to health care because the focus is on the patient. Our goal is to allow you to meet with your pediatrician in a pleasant, relaxed and unhurried environment. This provides plenty of time to ask all of your questions and discuss your child’s specific needs. We want you to feel like family so we treat you like family.
With Signature Pediatrics you will always be able to bring in a sick child to be seen on the same day and can schedule most other appointments on the same day or within 24 hours. Wait times have been greatly reduced or eliminated and you will experience little or no time in the waiting room. Even more importantly, once you’re with the doctor, there’s no rush. We will take the time to truly understand your child’s unique needs and offer the most thorough care and follow-up possible.
Please contact us today and learn how Signature Pediatrics can mean the difference between your child living and living well.
6115 Park South Dr. • Suite 105
Charlotte, NC 28210