Doctors urge caution as feels-like temperatures in Triangle hover around triple digits

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Tuesday, July 19, 2022
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A Duke ER doctor said hospital visits for heat-related causes are on the rise.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- With feels-like temperatures hovering around the triple digits Monday, visitors to the sunflower field at Dorothea Dix Park shared they waited until later in the day to check it out.

"It's not too hot right now. We were out here earlier. But right now, it's a lot cooler," said Zeph Rico.

"Especially with the kids and you don't want it to be too hot," added Denovia Smith.

"It's better when the sun's down a little bit, got a little breeze," Shelby Bell noted.

Between outdoor concerts and athletic practices set to start back up in the next couple weeks, doctors are urging people to be careful while outside.

"There's a few things we can do to mitigate or reduce that risk for heat-related illness. Making sure that you hydrate very well before an event, during the event, and after an event you attend. Planning your events around the hottest part of the day to try and avoid that. So if you're going to a park or something that's not based on a certain time period, going earlier in the day when it's a little cooler or later in the evening. Trying to find times to break up your day with air conditioning or shade and periods of hydration, especially for young children or for the elderly or for people who have medical conditions that put you at-risk," said Dr. John Purakal, an emergency room physician at Duke.

He noted they've seen an uptick in heat-related visits.

"The majority of these cases with heat-related illness are usually related to overexertion or overexposure. It's not a certain number that gets us to that point," Purakal noted.

In terms of hydration, Purakal said to be aware of sugary drinks, which can ultimately be dehydrating. He urged parents to take preventative measures to make sure children are staying safe while outside.

"You as the parent are the one to make sure there are breaks taken no matter what the activity is, finding a cool spot, whether it's shade or preferably an air-conditioned car or mall or library, wherever you can get that's nearby," Purakal noted.

According to the CDC, there were 3,066 heat-related deaths in the United States from 2018-2020; heat is the leading weather-related cause of death.

NCDHHS said that certain medications can make you more vulnerable to the heat, including those for blood pressure, migraines, allergies, muscle spasms and mental illness.