Mid-South doctors treating more heat-related illnesses

·2 min read

The Mid-South has already experienced at least one heat-related death as temperatures climb into the triple digits.

Last week, an 82-year-old man in Mississippi was mowing a lawn when doctors say he got sick and died due to heat stroke.

Doctors worry that the death toll may rise with the heat expected to stick around.

FOX13 spoke with doctors who said it doesn’t take long for the heat to become deadly, and they’re seeing a significant increase in the number of people coming in with heat-related illnesses. On top of that, they’re seeing an increase in the number of COVID patients.

“The combination of COVID and heat exhaustion at the same time could be life-threatening,” Dr. Mark Castellaw, a medical director with Baptist Medical Group, said.

Dr. Castellaw said the increase in patients is a stark reminder of how dangerous the sweltering Mid-South sun can be.

“Heat-related illnesses are definitely cumulative, and so the more hot weather that we’re having, the more issues people are going to have,” he said.

Heat exhaustion happens when the body loses excessive amounts of water and salt, typically from sweating.

Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency that happens when your body is unable to control its internal temperature.

“The early symptoms include being hot, being dizzy, having nausea, headache. I’m sweating, and if it continues, the loss of sweating,” Dr. Michael Washington, an emergency physician at St. Francis Hospital, said.

Dr. Washington said heat stroke can be deadly, and patients need to be seen in the ER immediately.

Depending on the heat index and a person’s age, he said symptoms sometimes happen suddenly.

“Once the humidity reaches levels of above 65, that ability to evaporate the sweat diminishes,” he said.

As for the people FOX13 talked to, they have their own plan to stay cool.

“I’m just staying in the house. I can’t go out in this. I’m an old person,” Evelyn Jansen of Memphis said.

Both the doctors remind people to use common sense when it’s this hot outside.

Try not to be out in the heat of the day, drink plenty of water, take breaks and get into the A/C if you’re working outside.

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