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GPs want us to know how to enjoy the heat – but not to exhaustion

After more than a week of blue skies and recording-breaking temperatures, health leaders in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire want to make sure you're enjoying the good weather, but not to exhaustion.

Forecasts are for the high temperatures to continue into the middle of next week, with that come the risk of conditions like heat exhaustion. The heat can also exacerbate problems for people with things like asthma.

Heat exhaustion is not serious and usually gets better when you cool down. If it turns into heat stroke it needs to be treated as an emergency.

Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • headache
  • dizziness and confusion
  • loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
  • cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • fast breathing or pulse
  • temperature of 38C or above
  • intense thirst
  • children may also seem floppy and sleepy

Dr Steve Fawcett, GP and NHS CCG Clinical Director, said: "Heat exhaustion isn't actually that serious. Getting into a cool, shaded place, lying down with your feet raised, drinking plenty of water and getting in front of a fan will usually sort you out.

"If after half-an-hour you're not feeling better, then you should call 999 as you may be showing signs of heat stroke which can be a lot more serious."

It's important that people with asthma have their blue reliever inhaler with them at all times, especially in warm weather as it can be a trigger for the condition. 

Dr Fawcett added: "We're not too sure why heat triggers asthma, but we know that it can.

"If you have got a blue inhaler, make sure you're keeping it cool because if it gets hot, it won't work as well.  So, avoid leaving it in a car glovebox or on a windowsill. 

"Also, don't forget to use your preventer inhaler if you've been prescribed one."

To keep cool in the hot weather:

  • drink plenty of cold drinks, especially when exercising
  • take cool baths or showers
  • wear light-coloured, loose clothing
  • sprinkle water over skin or clothes
  • avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm
  • avoid excess alcohol
  • avoid extreme exercise

Local pharmacists and the free NHS 111 phone service will be able of offer more advice on health concerns as the warm weather continues.

You can also visit NHS Choices – https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/heatwave-how-to-cope-in-hot-weather/

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