WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — United Regional’s newest family physician Dr. Heather Clark hasn’t been in Wichita Falls too long, but she’s certainly feeling the heat and knows you are too.
“Heat exhaustion, you may feel tired, you’re sweating, you may even just feel out of sorts, but when that has progressed to being confused, passing out, having nausea and vomiting that continues or just other symptoms that you think something’s wrong, you should call an ambulance and go directly to the ER,” Clark said.
Just like a car that overheats, our bodies cannot handle too much of this summer sun.
“The danger with heat stroke, it’s the more severe one. Heat stroke is when your body temperature is elevated and it can cause damage to all your organ systems, your brain, your heart, your kidneys,” Clark said.
That’s why it’s so important to drink water.
“Staying hydrated. That means that you are going to the bathroom frequently throughout the day, you’re avoiding things that are diuretics that make you excessively use the bathroom. Those are things like alcohol, caffeine, all the good things you may have at a BBQ and if you are using those drinks with diuretics that are going to make you lose water more quickly then you need to make sure you’re replenishing with plain water in between those drinks,” Clark said.
And when it comes to your skin, don’t forget the sunscreen.
“There are so many sunscreens on the market it can be hard to know what to buy. You’re going to want to look for the phrase broad-spectrum. That’s going to be protecting you from all the different types of damaging UV rays. Ensure that it has an SPF of 15 or higher. That’s the dermatological association recommendation. Personally, I tell a patient to look for 60 or higher, but once you go above 70 the benefit is minimal so I think there is reducing benefit to buying SPF 90,” Clark said.
But if your child throws a fit when you pull out that bottle of spray or lotion, Dr. Clark says it doesn’t have to be that way.
“I think making sunscreen application fun is helpful to parents, I know they sell sunscreen that has purple tint, you put it on and it fades with time, making it a game to reapply that frequently and making that the norm, dressing them in light-colored clothes, white clothes, avoiding things like brown and black which are going to absorb the heat more,” Clark said.
No one wants to ruin a pool day with a trip in an ambulance, but it’s important to know when heat-related illness has gotten to that point.
“If you’ve sat in the shade for 15 minutes, if you’ve drank a cup of water and you are still having nausea, vomiting, you feel like you’re gonna pass out, that may be more serious symptoms that you need to seek more emergent care, but if you’ve taken time to rest and you feel a little bit better and you are still able to talk and you’re not vomiting, that’s probably heat exhaustion and you should stay out of the sun and hydrate well,” Clark said.
If you’re ever in doubt, Dr. Clark and everyone else at United Regional can help cool you down.
“Certainly calling your primary care doctor is always an appropriate first step,” Clark said.
Dr. Clark is accepting new patients ages 5 and up at the Barnett Road Medical Center with a wide variety of insurances.