Sunday, May 19, 2024
Florida's intense heat poses unique health risks.

Florida’s intense heat poses unique health risks.

Heat-Related Illnesses and Injuries on the Rise in South Florida

A middle-aged man arrived at Margate’s HCA Northwest Hospital emergency room on Monday complaining of major muscle cramping from his feet to his shoulders. Dr. Craig Kushnir, an emergency room doctor, quickly diagnosed the issue as dehydration. He noted that he has been seeing several patients with intense muscle cramping in recent weeks as temperatures in South Florida have soared. This summer’s extreme heat has led to an increase in various heat-related illnesses and injuries, ranging from anxiety dreams to painful kidney stones and burns caused by falling on the scorching ground.

Rashes and Burns

At Cleveland Clinic Florida, Dr. Aisha Subhani, chair of the emergency department, has treated patients with severe rashes that they believed were allergic reactions but turned out to be heat rashes. Furthermore, there have been incidents of burns caused by the scorching temperatures. Children have burned their rear ends on playground slides, beachgoers have burned the bottom of their feet on hot sand, and seniors have suffered burns from falls on heated pavement. In Florida, where falls are the most common reason for emergency room visits, even a few minutes of contact with hot pavement can result in dangerous injuries.

Sunburns and Kidney Stones

One of the more frequent heat-related issues seen in emergency departments this summer is kidney stones. Dr. Raymond J. Leveillee, a urologist, explains that super-hot weather can cause dehydration, leading to the formation of kidney stones. Florida is already a high-risk zone for kidney stones, particularly in the summer. People need to be mindful of drinking enough fluids and staying hydrated, both when outside in the hot weather as well as when indoors in air-conditioned environments.

Another heat-related concern is sunburn. The intense sunburns experienced this summer have led doctors to treat patients as they would burn victims. Staying asleep on the beach and waking up with severe sunburns has become a common occurrence. It is important for people to protect their skin from the sun and seek medical attention if they experience severe sunburn symptoms.

Medication Reactions

Soaring temperatures also pose risks for individuals on certain medications, especially older adults. Medications like heart medications, antidepressants, antipsychotics, ADHD medications, and antihistamines can affect an individual’s heat tolerance and increase the risk of heat stroke. Additionally, some medications can cause dehydration and make the skin more susceptible to sunburn and rashes. It is crucial for individuals to be aware of these interactions and take necessary precautions.

Gastrointestinal Illness

Leaving food in hot cars or outside in the heat can cause it to spoil much faster than usual, leading to gastrointestinal illness. Patients have been treated for vomiting and severe diarrhea that can be traced back to spoiled food. It is important to properly store food to avoid such issues.

Preterm Birth

Pregnant women need to take extra precautions during the hot summer months. Exposure to high temperatures, even in the early stages of pregnancy, is associated with increased risks of premature birth and stillbirth. Pregnant women are more likely to experience heat-related illnesses sooner than non-pregnant women, as their bodies work harder to cool themselves down and they are more prone to dehydration. Limiting outdoor activities and staying hydrated are important steps for pregnant women to take.

Sleep Issues

Experts have observed an increase in individuals experiencing insomnia and anxiety dreams due to the record heat. High temperatures in the bedroom can disrupt natural temperature fluctuations in the brain and body, making it difficult to fall asleep and interrupting rest throughout the night. This can have negative effects on daytime mood and lead to increased stress. Keeping the bedroom dark and cool at around 65°F is recommended to improve sleep quality.


The rising temperatures in South Florida have resulted in a surge of heat-related illnesses and injuries. Patients are seeking medical attention for various issues such as muscle cramping, rashes, burns, kidney stones, and medication reactions. Pregnant women need to be especially cautious, as high temperatures can increase the risk of preterm birth and stillbirth. It is crucial for individuals to stay hydrated, protect their skin from the sun, and take necessary precautions to avoid heat-related health risks.

Source: Sun Sentinel


About Eira Davis

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