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Heat and your body: Four health dangers | News

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Heat and your body: Four health dangers
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ATLANTA -- As temperatures remain in the mid-90s across Atlanta, it's important to remember that the heat can have serious health effects.

Dr. Leon Haley, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Grady Hospital, said the heat can strike in four ways: sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Sunburn is generally the first step, followed by heat cramps or dehydration.

"Their body is responding to it by getting a little dry," Dr. Haley said. "Their muscles begin to ache."

More serious is heat exhaustion, which usually manifests itself in patients with existing health conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Their illnesses become more pronounced and symptoms include chest pain, difficulty breathing and irregular blood sugar levels.

Heat stroke is the most severe condition.

"They're so hot that they actually begin to have signs and symptoms of a stroke," Dr. Haley said. "So they can't talk very well, they're slurring their speech, losing their memory."

Many Georgians' bodies are acclimated to the heat, so heat stroke cases are not as frequent, Dr. Haley said. But with extreme heat, any of the conditions can happen at any time and should be taken seriously, he said.

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