Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
HYPERTHERMIA: Heat Related Illness
THE HAZARDOUS EFFECTS OF HEAT AND HUMIDITY ON THE ELDERLY
Summer has finally arrived in Michigan, but is your home prepared to handle its effects? Soaring temperatures and high humidity can drain healthy young people, but it is an especially serious combination for our elderly and physically compromised residents. If not managed effectively, it can lead to unnecessary suffering and even death.
So let's take a closer look at what happens when temperatures rise and the weather is muggy. What can you do to help KEEP COOL?
Just what is HYPERTHERMIA?
Hyperthermia is defined as an abnormally high body temperature caused by inadequate or inappropriate responses of heat-regulating mechanisms (Merck Manual of Geriatrics 3rd edition, 2000).
Inadequate or Inappropriate Responses of Heat-regulating Mechanisms?
Most of us lose body heat through evaporation from skin and lungs and by endocrine and autonomic responses that cause blood vessels to dilate and cardiac output, heart rate and sweating to increase, thus moving more heat from the body. Heat is lost because it can transfer from the warmer body to a cooler environmental temperature. When the environment is hotter than the body temperature or the humidity is too high, these mechanisms can fail and the heat remains in the body, causing body temperature to rise.
Certain risk factors related to age or compromised physical condition can affect the heat-regulating mechanisms.
Risk Factors include:
Other Risk Factors include:
SYMPTOMS of hyperthermia include:
Headache, nausea, and fatigue after exposure to heat indicate some measure of a heat-related illness. The two most common forms of hyperthermia are HEAT EXHAUSTION and HEAT STROKE .
HEAT STROKE IS A LIFE THREATENING CONDITION. MEDICAL ATTENTION IS IMMEDIATELY NECESSARY.
SO WHAT SHOULD WE DO TO KEEP COOL AND TO PREVENT HEAT-RELATED ILLNESSES FROM BECOMING A SERIOUS PROBLEM?
Follow the Recommendations To Health Facilities For Handling Heat And Humidity In Summer Months; (5/23/05 Michigan Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs notification to long term care facilities)
The Notification recommends:
Other recommendations include:
The Merck Manual of Geriatrics, 3rd edition
National Institute on Aging Fact Sheet: Hyperthermia: A Hot Weather Hazard for Older People
Michigan Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Community and Health Systems, Health Facilities Division's Notification: Recommendations To Health Facilities For Handling Heat And Humidity In Summer Months (5/23/05)