Senator Robert Byrd, 92, the longest serving senator in US history has died. The West Virginia senator died peacefully at about 3 a.m. at Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Va, a spokesman for the family told the Associated Press. Initially it was reported that the senator was suffering from dehydration and symptoms of heat exhaustion, but other medical conditions developed.
People suffer heat-related illness when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough. In such cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs. Several factors affect the body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Other conditions that can limit the ability to regulate temperature include old age, youth (age 0-4), obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug use and alcohol use.
What is heat exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, those with high blood pressure, and those working or exercising in a hot environment.
What are the warning signs of heat exhaustion?
The warning signs of heat exhaustion include the following:
The skin may be cool and moist. The pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. See medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.
What steps can be taken to cool the body during heat exhaustion?
What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.
What are the warning signs of a heat stroke?
Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:
What should I do if I see someone with any of the warning signs of heat stroke?
If you see any of these signs, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim. Do the following:
Source: Center for Disease Control