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The hotter, the sicker; Central Florida visitors feel the burn

Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Forecasters are calling for another week of hot weather in Central Florida, and as temperatures rise, so does the potential for heat-related illnesses.

Local cases of heat stroke and exhaustion

Orange County Fire Rescue responded to about 20 different calls related to heat illnesses over the 4th of July Holiday weekend.

The University of Central Florida's Lake Nona Hospital has seen an increase in patients with symptoms associated with heat-related illness, said Michelle Wallen the emergency room medical director. Although the increases she's seen are not Floridian patients.

“More of the heat-related injuries are probably more from the visitors that are not acclimated with the weather down here,” she said. "And there are a lot more people coming down and visiting now at this time. I think more so surprisingly during this summer than previous years."

AdventHealth reported a 50-percent increase in patients exhibiting heat-related illness symptoms. However, the hospital said that’s about normal for this time of the year.

Identifying The Heat Illness

Heat Stroke - At this point, a person is not sweating anymore. Their skin becomes dry and body temperatures rise greater than 103 to 104 degrees. The person becomes confused and can develop headaches. They may start to have nausea and vomiting and can get as bad as even having seizures.

Heat exhaustion - It's not as severe as heat stroke, but it's still considered an emergency. Heat exhaustion begins when the body temperature is greater than 100 degrees. At this point, a person is going to be profusely sweating. They may also have nausea and vomiting. Headaches may be a symptom, and they may also be confused as well.

Heat Cramps. The body begins to tighten muscles to painful degrees due to a person not taking in enough water or electrolytes.

Protecting yourself

Wallen wants to send a reminder for any and all visitors who have not adjusted to the Florida sun to drink water.

“Even when you don't feel thirsty, it's super important, so that you don't get dehydrated," she said. "You're definitely here in Orlando to have a good time, but if you're going to drink your alcohol, be aware that this is something else that can cause you to get dehydrated.” 

The Florida Department of Health has these tips for anyone hanging out in the sun:

  • Know the signs of heat-related illness, which can include headaches, dizziness, weakness, lightheadedness, irritability, confusion, an upset stomach, or vomiting. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke – the most serious form of heat injury.
  • Seek shade and air conditioning during the hottest parts of the day, usually between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can be a major threat due to Florida’s summer heat.
  • Wear a sunscreen that is at a level 30 SPF to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet rays. Be sure to reapply sunscreen often.
  • Never leave children, vulnerable individuals, or pets unattended in a vehicle.
Originally from South Florida, Joe Mario came to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida where he graduated with degrees in Radio & Television Production, Film, and Psychology. He worked several beats and covered multimedia at The Villages Daily Sun but returned to the City Beautiful as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel where he covered crime, hurricanes, and viral news. Joe Mario has too many interests and not enough time but tries to focus on his love for strange stories in comic books and horror movies. When he's not writing he loves to run in his spare time.
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