Doctors urge Utahns to be safe in record-breaking heat

Jun 14, 2021, 6:09 PM
record breaking heat...
(The sun passing over the roof of the Intermountain Healthcare Transformation Center in Murray. Photo: Paul Nelson)
(The sun passing over the roof of the Intermountain Healthcare Transformation Center in Murray. Photo: Paul Nelson)

MURRAY – The record-breaking heat has doctors across the state warning everyone…don’t push it and stay out of the heat.  They’re already seeing an uptick in people with heat-related illnesses coming into their hospitals. 

Doctors at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray say they’re not necessarily concerned about one or two days of record-breaking triple-digit heat.  However, when record heat lasts for several days or weeks, they expect many people to get sick.  Emergency Department Director Dr. Adam Balls says too many Utahns ignore the initial warning signs of heat-related illness.

Balls says, “You begin to feel more tired than you normally would be.  Maybe, you haven’t been out in the sun for 15 or 20 minutes and you’re nauseated and sick to your stomach.”

These symptoms only get worse as the body continues to struggle in the heat.  Balls says some heat-related illnesses give patients severe cramps that can last over an hour.

“People can begin to faint when they’re very dehydrated and that’s putting stress on their heart,” Balls says.  “They can become quite confused.”

Doctors are asking everyone to stay inside as much as they can during the hottest parts of the day.  They say people need to avoid any kind of physically straining activities during the day and to wait until nightfall to exercise.  Balls is also reminding people to stay as hydrated as possible.  He says even people who are swimming can forget to drink enough water, which leads to problems even though their bodies are cool.

However, it’s not just the heat that has doctors concerned.  Pulmonologist Denitza Blagev says the bad air quality will cause problems for people with asthma, COPD or people who have recovered from COVID-19.

She says, “The lungs don’t fully recover and you may be more susceptible to having either breathing problems or coughing from the heat and the ozone.”

Blagev says lungs don’t like extreme temperatures, either too hot or too cold.  According to her, heat mixed with bad air can have some people feeling like they’re breathing through a straw.

“Warm air tends to be pretty good, but hot air really does irritate people, and they feel like they’re suffocating,” she says.


Other Reading:

Air conditioner repair crews super busy in record heat wave

June heatwave brings record temps to Utah

Utah drought conditions could affect boaters this year

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Doctors urge Utahns to be safe in record-breaking heat