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How senior citizens can avoid heat exhaustion, heat stroke

Senior citizens are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes the normal body response to warm temperatures, according to Dr. Matt Fleming.

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — The extreme heat in Spokane is sticking around at least through the weekend, leaving the city's vulnerable population to ensure they protect themselves from heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults do not adjust well to extreme temperature changes and are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes the body's response to warm temperatures.

The best way to ensure older adults do not suffer from a heat stroke is to use methods to naturally cool the body, according to Dr. Matt Fleming, the COO of Sunshine Health Facilities in Spokane Valley.

Fleming said vulnerable adults can avoid becoming ill by staying hydrated, closing blinds and windows and not using the oven. He added freezing items like socks, sheets and washcloths can also be beneficial.

“I think using cooling cloths, frozen washcloths, keeping them by your chair, put them in a cooler with some ice,” Fleming said. “Put them on your neck, your elbows, your wrists, your knees, where the doctor takes your pulse when you go to the doctor. If you cool those areas, your body will enjoy that cooling effect much longer." 

Fleming stressed the importance of recognizing the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, such as muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue and headaches. If these symptoms are not treated, they could lead to a heat stroke, according to Fleming.

If someone begins experiencing symptoms of a heat stroke, such as confusion, dizziness or unconsciousness, it is critical to seek medical attention right away.

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