Every Minnesotan is familiar with piling on coats, hats, mittens and other clothing to stay protected from the elements during the winter months. So far this year HCMC has treated at least 78 patients with complications from hypothermia – literally meaning “low (body) temperature.” No one plans to become hypothermic; car trouble, walking home from a party, or a slip and fall on the ice are just a few ways people inadvertently get over-exposed to the harsh cold.
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Irja Gardner of Mound is an early riser who likes to complete her workout routine before her son gets up for school. But on Wednesday, June 6, her routine was cut short when she noticed that the readings on her X-Box exercise program monitor didn’t seem quite right.
“The X-Box said, ’40 percent complete’ when it usually says ’95 percent complete’ after the first set of reps,” said Gardner. “Then I couldn’t stand up anymore — I fell and ended up on the floor. I wasn’t sure what was going on, so I stumbled up the stairs and sat down on the couch for a while, thinking it would pass. I can’t remember too many details after that.”
Hyperthermia and heat stroke can be life-threatening medical conditions. HCMC health professionals want to remind everyone that the best way to avoid heat-related medical problems is to:
- Stay cool – if you don’t have air conditioning in your home, go to a shopping mall, restaurant, library or movie theater to stay cool.
- Drink plenty of water (even if you’re not thirsty!). Avoid drinking alcohol!
- Check on elderly friends and family members or those who have health concerns to make sure they are adequately hydrated and cared for.
- Avoid heavy exercise – especially during the hottest times of the day.
- Seek medical attention if you have these signs of hyperthermia: confusion, inability to perspire, combativeness, fainting, rapid pulse, flushed skin, delirium.