Doctor's orders: Tips to avoid illness from heat

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's been a rough week for everyone dealing with the unusually hot temperatures. Doctors warn it can take days, maybe even weeks for your body to recover.

At Valley Urgent Care in Northridge, doctors say they're seeing a sharp increase in patients with heat-related problems, like dehydration.

"They come in dry mouth, dry lips, dry mucous membranes, and they're complaining of dizziness, muscle weakness, fatigue," said Dr. Shauna Collins.

Many people coming in just aren't getting enough fluids. Dehydration can escalate into heat stroke, especially with prolonged exposure to dangerous heat.

The very young, the elderly and people with chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes are especially at risk.

"The blood volume is decreased and this could lead to shock, which depletes the oxygen or deprives the organs of oxygen," said Dr. Collins. "This could lead to kidney failure, brain dysfunction, brain swelling, coma, seizures."

And Dr. Collins says the long heat spell can cause cumulative damage to organ systems. To recover, hydration levels need to be replenished. But don't let up as temperatures ease up. Experts say that's often when people spend more time outside but drink less water.

"You can continue to have negative consequences: blood volume becoming lower, this can contribute to dizziness, muscle weakness, fatigue," said Collins.

Her advice for the next few days: Constantly drink water even when you're indoors, avoid caffeine and sugary drinks, wear light, loose clothing and don't forget the sunscreen.

"We can't completely let down our guard," said Collins. "We can enjoy the cooler weather but we always have to keep prevention in mind."

Collins reminds us to keep drinking water even if you're staying indoors most of the day. All those short trips outside to and from work, to pick up the kids or run errands all deplete fluids.

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