Who is At Risk for a Heat-Related Illness?

Although heat-related illnesses can affect anyone, there are people who are more at risk of developing problems from the heat, including:

  • Infants and children   
  • Elderly   
  • Those who are overweight   
  • Those who are ill or on certain medications

The elderly and children younger than two years of age do not have the ability to regulate their body temperatures as well as teens and adults can.  Also, babies can't get rid of body heat efficiently, because they can't sweat as much as adults can. Elderly people tend lose some of their ability to feel thirsty as they get older. It is very important to make sure that babies and older people have plenty of fluids, a fan, or an air conditioner and a lot of ventilation to help keep them cool.

Overweight people may also be prone to heat sickness because of their tendency to retain more body heat. Any condition that causes dehydration makes your body more susceptible to heat sickness.  If you or someone you know is at a higher risk, it is important to drink plenty of fluids, avoid overexertion, and get a doctor's opinion about medications. Medications taken for high blood pressure, depression, nervousness, mental illness, insomnia, or poor circulation may affect your body's ability to regulate heat by suppressing sweating or blocking the body's ability to recognize thirst.

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