What's Going Around

Heat-related illnesses are keeping Dr. Dennis Perry at Meridian Primary Care, a partner of McLaren Greater Lansing, busy this week.

Dr. Perry is seeing patients with heat exhaustion. There are two types of heat exhaustion: water depletion and salt depletion.

The symptoms of water depletion heat exhaustion include: excessive thirst, weakness, headache and loss of consciousness.

The symptoms of salt depletion heat exhaustion include: nausea, vomiting, frequent muscle cramps and dizziness.

To treat heat exhaustion, try to lower your body temperature by getting in the shade or inside an air-conditioned room, drinking lots of fluids, and removing any tight or unnecessary clothing. Apply ice packs or take a cool shower.

If those things don't help in 30 minutes, call a doctor. Untreated heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which Dr. Perry is also treating.

Heat stroke is the most severe of heat illnesses. It's life-threatening because the body cannot cool itself.

Symptoms of heat stroke include: red, flushed skin; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache, nausea, seizures, difficulty speaking, confusion and loss of consciousness.

If you think you have heat stroke, call 911. Then take the same precautions as you would if you had heat exhaustion.

Dr. Perry is also treating swimmer's itch. It's a skin reaction certain people get when the larval stage of certain flatworms enters into the skin.

If you have swimmer's itch, a small red spot will appear within 30 minutes of the skin being penetrated. The red spot will get bigger over the next 24 to 30 hours and will itch for up to a week.

Topical creams will help reduce the swelling. See a doctor for a prescription to help relieve the itching.

Toweling off may help prevent swimmer's itch in some cases. There are creams you can apply prior to swimming in lakes and ponds.

Avoid swimming in areas where swimmer's itch is a problem, or areas that provide conditions for the parasite to flourish. A rocky shore provides surfaces for parasites to attach their eggs. Areas with a lot of birds or snails are more likely to harbor the parasite because birds and snails can be hosts. Wind currents are a factor, too. An onshore wind may actually push parasites to your area.


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