FMH Seeing More Patients With Heat-Related Illnesses

An officials say it’s been ‘steady.’

Frederick, Md. (KM)  Frederick Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Room has seen a number of patients coming in with heat-related illnesses in recent days. Dr. Vipul Kella, who chairs the FMH Emergency Department, says it’s been a steady stream since the excessive heat began pounding our area recently.   “We have seen a number of heat-related illnesses ranging from simply heat exhaustion to heat stroke,” he says.

Dr. Kella says the most serious illness is heat stroke, which has stroke-like symptoms. “That’s when the body’s nervous system, the brain, undergoes changes,” he says. Patient will have “dizziness, light-headedness, mental status changes, extreme confusion. And that’s when it can be a life-threatening emergency.”

When patients  come in, doctors and nurses will remove all of their clothing, and get them into a room. Dr. Kella says spray bottles will be used cool down a patient. “It’s actually the best way to cool a patient off,” he says. “Evaporative cooling” is used, he says. That exposes a patient to a fan. “We continue to do that as aggressively as possible to bring their core temperature down,” says Dr. Kella.

During this period of excessive heat, he says we need to check in on the most vulnerable members of the population. They include “infants or young children, or elderly patients, or patients on multiple medications that may inhibit their ability to regulate their body temperature,” says Dr. Kella.

When it’s extremely hot,  it’s best to stay inside where it’s air conditioned during the daylight hours, he says. But if you have to go out, you should drink plenty of water every 15-minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty, says Dr. Kella.

“Avoid any sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages as those can be dehydrating,” he says.