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    Hot-Weather Health Threats

    By By Melissa Tennen
    July 11, 2011, 8:44:09 AM EDT

    Mother Nature has turned up the heat. It's summer - and hot weather comes with the territory. But be careful. Too much heat can be dangerous.

    About 600 people die each year from the heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Normally, the body cools itself by sweating. Sometimes, though, sweating isn't enough. When this happens, the body cannot cool itself. This can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

    Heat cramps People who sweat a lot when they are active are more prone to heat cramps. Too much sweating can deplete the body of salt and moisture, leading to heat cramps.

    Muscle pain or spasm in the abdomen, arms or legs due to heat cramps usually occurs when you are physically active. Heat cramps may seem like a mild annoyance, but don't ignore them. They can be a symptom of heat exhaustion. People with heart problems or those on low-salt diets should call a doctor if they get heat cramps.

    Heat exhaustion Heat exhaustion is usually caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures over several hot days or too much physical activity in extreme heat. Sodium and potassium are important minerals that help regulate fluids in and out of your body's cells. Too little to drink, along with out-of-balance body fluids, can cause heat exhaustion.

    Those most vulnerable to heat-related illness are infants, very young children, the elderly, people with certain physical illnesses and those who work or exercise in hot temperatures.

    Signs of heat exhaustion include:

    - Heavy sweating -Paleness -Muscle cramps -Tiredness -Dizziness -Headache -Nausea or vomiting -Fainting -Cool, moist skin -Weak pulse -Fast, shallow breathing For more hot-weather health threats continue reading at myOptumHealth.com.

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