Signs you might have heat stroke

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States. It claims more lives each year than tornadoes and hurricanes.

“I think this year is no worse than others,” Emergency physician Giselle Zagari at St. Joseph’s Hospital said. “It's just now we’re seeing on the East Coast that there is a lot more predominance of heat related illness.”

This is especially true when it comes to heat stroke. Many people in the eastern part of the U.S. are suffering from it due to a record heat wave. But with the Valley's own scorching summer, Zagari said there are signs to take seriously.

“Some of your earliest symptoms are going to be thirst and you should always listen to your body because that's definitely your first sign that you’re already about 10 percent to 15 percent dehydrated,” Zagari said.

“You then progress into things like heat exhaustion where you start getting cramps, feeling weak. And then heat stroke would be mental changes in your mental status where some people can be unconscious and that's the most extreme form of heat stroke,” Zagari continued.

The doctor said the biggest mistake people can make is to brush off their symptoms.

“If your body is giving you signs and symptoms, it's important that people don't ignore those things,” Zagari said.

So to stay safe in the extreme heat, Zagari had this advice.

“Air conditioning is our best way to prevent any type of heat related illness, or if not able to seek air conditioned places to find a nice cool shaded area,” Zagari said. “Drink lots of fluids and on that note avoid caffeinated products as well as alcohol because those lead to more hydration.”

The doctor said it's also very important for the young, elderly and those with chronic medical conditions to stay cool during the summer months.