Doctors warn of heat-related illnesses amidst heatwave

Dr. Russell Bedsole with Flowers Hospital warns of heat-related illnesses amidst heatwave.
Dr. Russell Bedsole with Flowers Hospital warns of heat-related illnesses amidst heatwave.(Kinsley Centers)
Updated: Aug. 26, 2023 at 7:30 AM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Amidst the heatwave across the Wiregrass doctors want to remind people of how serious heat-related illnesses can be and how to avoid falling victim.

”It’s on the rise no question,” Dr. Russell Bedsole said.

Dr. Bedsole is talking about the rise in heat-related illness cases. He said Flowers Hospital has seen an increase in patient cases over the past five years, especially this year.

Patients are coming in with signs and symptoms of heat strokes and heat exhaustion.

A heat stroke happens when the core body temperature is greater than 104 degrees, according to Dr. Russell. When this happens the person experiences signs of mental change, confusion, memory loss, and delirium.

Another heat-related illness he said patients come in with is heat exhaustion. Dr. Bedsole said this is a step under the extreme of a heat stroke.

A person’s body temperature is below 104 degrees, but they could be experiencing excessive or lack of sweating, fatigue, muscle aches, and the beginning of mental status changes, like visual changes.

“I think one of the big cut-offs is the mental status changes,” Dr. Bedsole said. “So, if you or a loved one or someone notices, ‘Wait, confusion, delirium, not acting right, they were just outside 30 minutes,’ that’s a reason to go [to the hospital].”

Dr. Bedsole said preparedness is key and recommends people to hydrate before heading outside.

“If you are going out tonight to a ball game or a festival or whatever, you need to hydrate before you get there.,” Dr. Bedsole said. “Don’t wait until you get there. Actually, there is a concept of drinking beyond just thirst. So, most of the time we think, ‘Oh we will drink and if I’m not thirsty, I’m fine.’ In this heat push yourself a little bit. If you have heart conditions or other problems, of course, speak with your doctor but if otherwise you’re healthy I would recommend you hydrate before you go out, maybe even a little bit more than you normally would.”

He asks everyone to look after themselves and others as another hot weekend is on the horizon.

“If you have elderly parents, grandparents, or young children please watch out for them,” Dr. Bedsole said. “Please check on them.”

Patient’s ages commonly range from 4 years old and younger or 65 and older.

Dr. Bedsole adds it is important to talk to your doctor about any medications you may be taking because some can make you more subject to heat-related illness.

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