Besides being hot and sticky, Lisa McDavid Drexel, North Carolina, said, “I get very tired, can not breathe out of my nose and my chest begins to hurt.”
McDavid suffers from seasonal allergies, a deviated septum and mitral valve prolapse, a condition that causes the heart valves do not close properly.
“When it’s hot, but not wet, I can stand being outside a little longer, but when wet, I feel like I’m drowning.”
McDavid is certainly not the only one suffering from the adverse effects of heat on health. With nearly half the country for baking in a heatwave, hospitals in some of the worst affected areas are reporting cases of people who come into emergency rooms with heat-related illnesses. Many expect more of the heat wave continues.
Many cases do not necessarily imply a heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
“We see a lot of hot people, but people with diseases, alcohol, drugs, old age and disability, whose conditions are aggravated by heat,” said Dr. James Adams, professor and director of the Department Emergency Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Very high temperature and humidity can affect everyone, but experts say that, besides the children and the elderly, people with medical conditions that follow are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses.
Allergies, asthma and other respiratory problems
Allergy and asthma specialists say they are seeing more patients whose disease has been caused by heat and humidity, as well as increased levels of pollutants in the air.
“[We] have seen many new patients first diagnosed with asthma is aggravated by the heavy pollen and extreme temperatures and humidity,” said Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York .
Bassett also said that in addition to pollen, mold levels increase when wet.
The heat wave is also causing serious respiratory problems such as severe asthma attacks and worsening of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). At Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, several patients need emergency treatment for both conditions. One of them even need a breathing tube.
“Both patients had air conditioning – air-conditioned room, not the whole house – and they were using, however, was not enough to prevent heat aggravates the symptoms,” said Dr. Alvin Wang, an emergency room doctor the Temple.
During a heat wave, experts say that air conditioners can not make the environment cool enough.
Bassett advises anyone with allergies or asthma to stay where the air conditioning, and to change and clean the filters frequently. If you have to go out, check the pollen count and pay special attention to ozone alerts.
“Almost any underlying medical condition may be exacerbated by heat stress and dehydration, but they are the people most at risk are those with severe underlying heart and lung disease,” said Dr. Corey Slovis, professor and director of the Department of Medicine Emergency Medicine School of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee
“In times of extreme heat, people are prone to dehydration,” said Dr. Phil Ragno, director of cardiovascular health and welfare at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY “The more activities we do, we are losing fluid through perspiration, and decreasing the volume of blood in our system. The blood vessels dilate in the heat, and as a result, the heart has to pump harder to circulate a small amount of blood. “
Ragno also says that people with heart disease should drink plenty of fluids before leaving the house when it is hot and should stay hydrated throughout the day.
“People with heart disease should be weighed every morning. If your weight has been reduced slightly, may not be body weight, but body fluid they are losing, which is a sign of impending problems,” said Ragno.