Local Hospitals Expect Increase in Heat Related Illness

Carmela Karcher

“It’s 100 and too many,” Paige Miller, a valley resident, shared. “Just trying to stay hydrated.”

The desert summer is in full swing, and people are feeling the heat.

But for locals, it’s just another day.

“I actually read a lot of books and just paint inside the house,” Miller continued. “Just do things inside. Hang out with my dog. Try to keep them cool which is really, really hard.”

“We moved down from Sacramento so it’s actually just as hot there as it is here. We love it though. Still paradise,” another local Katie Panarella said.

But for those visiting the desert, it’s a different story.

“It’s people that are probably coming in and visiting for a short period of time. They’re not acclimated,” Eisenhower Health Emergency Room Operations Director David Romness, MD explained. “It’s people who are just under estimating their ability. They’re in the Palm Springs area for the first time, they want to go on a hike, they don’t want to waste time staying indoors so they take a hike and they go a little bit beyond their own capabilities.”

Over the past month, Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage has seen 12 patients who suffered from heat-related illness, but they are expecting that number to increase.

And with temperatures creeping towards 120 degrees this weekend, the intense heat can take a toll for both visitors and locals.

Dr Romness continued, “When it becomes more severe, the body can’t regulate the temperature anymore, your temperature goes up to say 104 degrees and then you start having neurologic symptoms. You can pass out, be very confused and that’s when it evolves into heatstroke which is a medical emergency.”

Even if you like the heat, there are signs to be aware of.

“Headache, dizziness, you really can’t rely just on your thirst to say whether you’re hydrating well enough,” Dr. Romness said. “In these extreme heats, you really should spend as little to no time outside if you don’t have to be. If you are, make sure that you’re hydrating as much as possible, drink a little bit more than you normally would.”

He continued, “If you’re just starting to feel anxious or irritable and are having headaches, that may be more a sign of heat exhaustion than just an underlying mental health problem…I think it’s just really staying attuned to what your body is telling you.”

Certain medications, even psychiatric and blood pressure medications, can affect your ability to regulate your body temperature.

That also goes for the very young and very old so being aware of what your body is telling you is the key to stay safe and out of the emergency room.

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