Wisconsin’s record high temperatures are causing more heat-related illnesses than usual.
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, at least 50 people in Wisconsin had to visit a hospital emergency room due to a heat-related illness. That’s according to Department of Health Services spokeswoman Beth Kaplan. The state has a system that tracks the number of heat-related illnesses at 45 hospitals. It's new, so health officials can't make historical comparisons yet, “but we can say the current data show there’s a significant increase in heat-related illnesses over normal summer weather conditions.”
Kaplan says in June, two or three people landed in the hospital each day due to the heat.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke occur when a person becomes dehydrated and can’t regulate their body temperature. According to Mayo Clinic, untreated heatstroke can lead to brain, kidney and muscle damage, or even death.
Kim Lombard is the Trauma and Injury Prevention Coordinator with Gundersen Lutheran in La Crosse.
Lombard says the early signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, feeling faint, and an increased heart rate, “And you’re probably not going to notice it in yourself at that point because it affects your neurological function, your mental status. If you’re slurring your words, if you’re stumbling, you’re probably not going to recognize it; it’s going to be the people around you. So not only should you be aware of what’s going on with yourself, but be cautious of the others in your family and friends who are around you.”
Lombard says it’s important to seek medical attention immediately, since heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke within 10 minutes.