In the past week physicians have seen an influx in patients with heat-related illness at Integris Baptist Regional, according to a public relations official Jennifer Hessee.

On Average, Ottawa County experiences 22 days of temperatures in the 90's or higher in the month of August. As Oklahoma enters into this predicted period of severe heat, health officials remind everyone that this intense heat can kill.

According to the State health department, most victims of heat stress are the elderly. Heat stress is the burden that hot weather places on your body, especially your heart. If the burden is too great, heat can cause you to be very sick or even kill you.

Temperatures above 90 degrees can be dangerous, according to health officials, and the risk for illness increases when humidity is also high.

Advice from the Centers

for Disease Control

When feeling hot and uncomfortable, take steps to avoid heat stress. Heat stress can cause many medical problems including heat exhaustion, heat stroke and heart failure.

There are various health-related medical conditions that can increase a persons chances of getting sick in hot weather, including a weak or damaged heart, hypertension, problems with circulation, diabetes, previous stroke, being overweight, infection or fever, diarrhea, drinking alcoholic beverages and skin conditions or sunburn that may reduce sweating.

Additionally, many medications can make a person more vulnerable to the heat. Those taking medicine for high blood pressure, nervousness, depression, poor circulation or sleeplessness should check with a doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Early warning signs

of heat stress

Hot weather makes most people feel uncomfortable and can cause a lack of energy or slight loss of appetite. Health officials say both are signs of heat stress but, unless they last for a prolonged time, there is no need to be alarmed.

The most common serious signs of heat stress include dizziness, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, nausea, throbbing headache, dry skin (no sweating), chest pain, significant weakness, mental changes, breathing problems, vomiting and cramps.

How to avoid heat stroke

Keep cool - Spend as much time as possible in cool surroundings such as a residence, an air-conditioned shopping mall, senior center, public library or movie theatre.

Turn on the air conditioner - It can provide lifesaving relief from heat stress, especially for those who have a medical condition like heart disease.

Use fans - Fans can draw cool air into a home at night or help provide good indoor air-circulation during the day. Air movement reduces heat stress by helping to remove extra body heat

Cool showers - Cool baths or showers, with water temperature around 75F, provide quick relief from heat Cool water removes extra body heat 25 times faster than cool air.

Dress down - Wear comfortable, lightweight clothing when at home. Lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing are more comfortable in hot weather. Wear a hat or use an umbrella to provide shade.

Hydrate - Drink often and in reasonable amounts. Don't try to drink a lot of coffee or tea. They are fine in moderation, but water is best because, in hot weather, a body needs more water. Drink often, even when not thirsty. water.

Slow down - Take it easy, especially at the start of hot weather when the body is less prepared for the heat. Physical activity produces body heat.

Eat light - Avoid hot foods and heavy meals. Cook meals during the cooler part of the day - before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.

Reduce salt - Check with a doctor before increasing salt or potassium intake. Do not take salt tablets without a doctor's permission.

Avoid alcohol - Alcohol interferes with the body's ability to fight heat stress. Health officials say it increase strain on the heart.