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ER, urgent care visits for heat stroke surge in Central Florida

face of a man that is sweating profusely
AdventHealth Central Florida is reporting a surge in patients seeking care for heat-related illnesses.

AdventHealth Central Florida is reporting a surge in patients seeking care for heat-related illnesses as heat advisories continue across the state.

AdventHealth emergency departments have seen a 20% increase in patients seeking care for heat-related illnesses this summer, and urgent cares in the network have seen an increase of 115%.

Dr. Max Baumgardner is the medical director for AdventHealth’s Seminole County emergency rooms.

“Really most of this is related to overexertion, or too much time out in the sun and heat. We're seeing people that do jobs outside that are not able to either seek shelter, or wear protective clothing and are not taking the appropriate hydration precautions," said Baumgardner.

Baumgardner said the best prevention is drinking lots of water, taking shade breaks, and seeking out the air conditioning when possible.

“The people that are at greatest risk are those that first can't seek shelter, or they have to be outside for jobs, but also those that are doing things like sports," said Baumgardner. "We're going to see a lot of kids and high school sporting activities pick up here in the next few weeks.”

He says other patients who are at high risk for heat-related illnesses include the very old, the very young, and people who have chronic medical conditions.

If you seek treatment, expect to get tested for both heat-related illness and COVID, as high fever, severe headache, loss of appetite and body aches and pains are common to heat stroke and COVID.

Here's a handy guide from the CDC:

Heat Stroke

Symptoms to look for:

  • High body temperature (103°F or higher)
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Losing consciousness (passing out)

What to do:

  • Call 911 right away-heat stroke is a medical emergency
  • Move the person to a cooler place
  • Help lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath
  • Do not give the person anything to drink

Heat Exhaustion

Symptoms to look for:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fainting (passing out)

What to do:

  • Move to a cool place
  • Loosen your clothes
  • Put cool, wet cloths on your body or take a cool bath
  • Sip water

Get medical help right away if

  • You are throwing up
  • Your symptoms get worse
  • Your symptoms last longer than 1 hour
Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.
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