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Montana's getting hot this week. Stay hydrated

Asian woman drying sweat on a warm summer day
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The National Weather Service says hot weather is arriving across Montana this week. Temperatures will range from the mid 90s on Wednesday to near 100 degrees by the weekend.

That’s a dramatic change from this year’s generally cool, wet conditions and presents some potential health risks.

Dr. Sara Nyquist says this week’s heat wave could be a jolt to the system. Nyquist, a Billings Clinic emergency physician, urges Montanans to be aware of common heat-related disease symptoms.

The least severe is heat-related cramping of the body’s largest muscles. Fluids and rest in a cool environment is usually enough to ease the discomfort.

Heat exhaustion is more serious. Those symptoms include nausea, lightheadedness, and an unusually fast heart rate. In most cases it can be treated with cold water or an electrolyte drink, rest in a cool place and loosened clothing.

Nyquist says heat stroke is by far the most serious heat-related disease which includes all the symptoms of heat exhaustion, but patients are also not “thinking normally. They’re confused. And that actually is when the heat mechanisms for controlling cooling are overwhelmed and the body can’t do it on its own anymore.”

Police say former NFL running back Marion Barber III died of heat stroke last month. Barber was 38 years old.

Nyquist says anyone experiencing suspected heat stroke symptoms should seek emergency medical care.

She urges people to avoid getting overheated in the first place by staying hydrated and out of direct sunlight when possible, as well as avoiding outdoor exercise during the heat of the day.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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