Survival Medicine Hour: Snakebite, Bee Sting, Heat Waves, Zika in the US?

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bee-sting

bee stinger in a sting wound

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton, MD (Dr. Bones) and Amy Alton, ARNP (Nurse Amy) tackles a bunch of topics. First, new cases of Zika in Florida may not be related to travel outside the country. Until now, all cases were from people who returned from the epidemic zone in the Caribbean and Latin America. Puerto Rico now has 4000 cases, almost all locally transmitted, and the CDC thinks we’ll have some clusters of local cases in the continental U.S. as well.

snakebite ankle with bruising

snakebite wound

Also, summer is here and a murderous heat wave has gripped the Nation’s East, Midwest, and Southwest, causing at least 6 deaths and cause the heat index to feel like 100 degrees or more in locations that are used to much milder weather. Heat stroke is a major risk and you need to know how to identify and treat it.

heat dome reuse

the “heat dome”

Plus, out in the woods you’ll encounter a lot of critters. Last week, we talked about bites and attacks from warm furry ones, this weeks it’s snakes and bees/wasps. Learn all the latest about how to deal with a snakebite when modern medical help is not available, plus how to use an epi-pen to treat severe allergic reactions like anaphylactic shock.

All this and more on the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Joe and Amy Alton! To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/07/25/survival-medicine-hour-snakebite-bee-stings-zika-in-the-us-heat-waves

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe and Amy Alton

JoeAmyPortrait2013

The Altons

 

Under The Heat Dome

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heat dome reuse

heat dome

This summer is turning out to be a real scorcher, with the formation of a “heat dome” bringing some of the hottest weather so far this year to large swaths of U.S. territory this week.

Many consider a heat wave to be just a time to put an extra ice cube in the lemonade, but it’s a deadly natural disaster. More people die in heat waves in the U.S. than just about any recent weather event short of hurricane Katrina. A recent heat wave in the Southwest and West caused temperatures to reach 124 degrees Fahrenheit in Palms Springs, California and 115 degrees in Tucson, Arizona. The highest temperature on Earth ever recorded was 134 degrees in Death Valley, California in 1913.

Heat waves causing large numbers of deaths have been common in recent years.  In 2015, thousands died in a major heat wave in India and Pakistan. Tens of thousands died in a European heat wave in 2003.

This week’s “heat dome” is caused by hot air unable to escape due to high pressure systems over much of the central part of the country.  These systems act like a lid on a pot, causing temperatures to soar. Storms may form at the edges, possibly leading to tornadoes in some areas.

noaa heat index chart

NOAA Heat Index Chart

Making matters worse, the heat index will make it feel even hotter. The heat index is calculated from the temperature combined with the humidity, much like wind chill is a combination of air temperature and wind speed. High humidity limits the ability of the body to sweat, one of the important ways humans get rid of excess heat. It is expected that, due to the heat index, residents will feel as if the temperature is 10 to 20 degrees higher than what the actual air temperature is.

Prepper-Corn-Garden-Container

Yes, Corn can sweat!

Where is this humidity coming from? It could be coming from, of all things, cornfields. The huge amount of land dedicated to growing corn in the Midwest increases air humidity. This is because corn “sweats” much like a human does in hot weather. This humidity will have the effect of increasing the heat index.

Rural areas won’t be the only areas affected. Urban areas will also feel the heat. Paved roads and concrete buildings absorb more heat and cool down slower at night. This causes nighttime temperatures to stay high.

You might think that the most danger will be in areas like South Florida, which has a subtropical climate year-round. But citizens of Miami are accustomed to heat, and less heat-related deaths occur there than would in parts of the country that normally have milder weather. Residents of Minnesota, for example, have less experience with extreme heat and some buildings may not have air conditioners. This puts them at more risk for hyperthermia (heat-related emergencies). Older individuals that might have limited ability to seek help are especially at risk.

Below is advice on heat-related illness from our recent article:

The ill effects due to overheating are called “heat exhaustion” if mild to moderate; if severe, these effects are referred to as “heat stroke”. Heat exhaustion usually does not result in permanent damage, but heat stroke does; indeed, it can permanently disable or even kill its victim.  It is a medical emergency that must be diagnosed and treated promptly.

Simply having muscle cramps or a fainting spell does not necessarily signify a major heat-related medical event. You will see “heat cramps” often in children that have been running around on a hot day.  Getting them out of the sun, massaging the affected muscles, and providing hydration will usually resolve the problem.

In addition to muscle cramps and/or fainting, heat exhaustion is characterized by:

  • Confusion
  • Rapid pulse
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Temperature elevation up to 105 degrees F

If no action is taken to cool the victim, heat stroke may ensue. Heat stroke, in addition to all the possible signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, will manifest as loss of consciousness, seizures or even bleeding (seen in the urine or vomit).  Breathing becomes rapid and shallow.

heat stroke vs heat exhaustion

heat exhaustion (L) Heat Stroke (R)

If not dealt with quickly, shock and organ malfunction may ensue, possibly leading to death. In heat stroke, the skin is hot to the touch, but dry; sweating might be absent.  The body makes efforts to cool itself down until it hits a temperature of about 105 degrees. At that point, thermoregulation breaks down and the body’s ability to use sweating as a natural temperature regulator fails. In heat stroke, the body core can rise to 110 degrees Fahrenheit or more.

In some circumstances, the patient’s skin may actually seem cool.  It is important to realize that it is the body core temperature that is elevated. A person in shock may feel “cold and clammy” to the touch.  You could be misled by this finding, but taking a reading with a thermometer will reveal the patient’s true status.

heat stroke graphic

When overheated patients are no longer able to cool themselves, it is up to their rescuers to do the job. If hyperthermia is suspected, the victim should immediately:

  • Be removed from the heat source (for example, out of the sun).
  • Have their clothing removed.
  • Be drenched with cool water (or ice, if available)
  • Have their legs elevated above the level of their heart (the shock position)
  • Be fanned or otherwise ventilated to help with heat evaporation
  • Have moist cold compresses placed in the neck, armpit and groin areas

Why the neck, armpit and groin? Major blood vessels pass close to the skin in these areas, and cold packs will more efficiently cool the body core.

heat-stroke

Oral rehydration is useful to replace fluids lost, but only if the patient is awake and alert. If your patient has altered mental status, he or she might “swallow” the fluid into their airways; this causes damage to the lungs and puts you in worse shape than when you started.

Heat stroke is preventable in many cases. The Arizona state department of health recommends the following:

  • Drink at least 2 liters (about a half-gallon) of water per day if you are mostly indoors and 1 to 2 additional liters for every hour of outdoor time. Drink before you feel thirsty, and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing and use a sun hat or an umbrella to deflect the sun’s rays.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of large ones.
  • Avoid strenuous activity.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Take regular breaks if you must exert yourself on warm days.

In a heat wave, it’s important to check on the elderly, the very young, and the infirm regularly and often. These people have more difficulty seeking help, and you might just save a life if you’re vigilant. Know the warning signs and how to help those with hyperthermia.

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

 

 

Video: Heat Wave Safety

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heat stroke 1

Man, it’s hot! In this video on Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP‘s YouTube channel, Dr. Bones discusses a natural disaster: Heat Waves. You might not consider the heat to be a natural disaster, but it can be deadly to a community as it was when a major one hit Europe in 2003, causing tens of thousands of deaths. Find out how to identify, treat, and prevent heat-related complications like heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and you might just save a life this summer!

To watch, click below:

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

JoeAmyPortrait2013

Fill those holes in your medical supplies by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits and individual items at store.doomandbloom.net.

11 Tips To Avoid Heat Stroke When Your AC Goes Down

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The summer heat is here, and along with summer comes thunderstorms, tornadoes, and disasters that could knock out the power, and your air conditioner. If you rely on your air conditioning to survive the summer heatwaves, you could be in for a real challenge if you lose electricity or your AC goes down. In my […]

The post 11 Tips To Avoid Heat Stroke When Your AC Goes Down appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Survival Medicine Hour: Sprains/Strains, Heat Wave Safety, Brazil’s Zika Woes

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sprained-ankle

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy (Joe Alton, MD, and Amy Alton, ARNP), we discuss how a heat waves is a major natural disaster which commonly causes deaths, sometimes on a large scale, and how you can stay safe and avoid, identify, and treat heat stroke and other heat-related illness. Also, how to deal with orthopedic injuries like sprains and strains, plus some natural remedies from Nurse Amy that might be helpful to speed healing. We also discuss Brazil’s many woes, of which Zika virus is just one. Brazil is suffering from economic and political turmoil, and you can expect issues with security that may cause some injuries and deaths on top of the risk of infection. All this and more in this week’s Survival Medicine Hour!

heat stroke 1

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/07/01/survival-medicine-hour-sprainsstrains-heat-waves-brazils-zika-woes

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

AmyandJoePodcast400x200

Don’t forget to check out our brand new 700 page Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook, now available at amazon.com!

American Survival Radio, June 25

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shutterstock_119509171

 

American Survival Radio is Joe and Amy Alton’s second and latest podcast, focused on current events, health, and politics. It is separate and distinct from The Survival Medicine Hour, which continues as before focused mostly on health issues as they pertain to preparedness and survival.  If you’re interested in Survival, your own and that of your country, we bet you’ll like both!

In this episode of American Survival Radio, Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP discuss the issues of the day, which seems to include terror events and active shooters more and more as time goes on. Of course, with that, the political battle over gun control rages while, perhaps, the discussion over how to make Americans more difficult targets gets ignored. Plus, the state of California”s lawmakers pass a bill to allow Obamacare to be offered to undocumented immigrants, something President Obama himself had guaranteed repeatedly would NOT happen. Listen to how California State Senator Ricardo Lara (D) found a loophole in the law, and how, unless, they find funds to pay the premiums for these immigrants , Obamacare is still going to be unaffordable to most even if offered.

On the natural disaster front, a deadly heat wave in the West is causing problems for the 3500 firefighters trying to control multiple wildfires in the area. Yes, a heat wave is a natural disaster: A major one in 2003 on the European continent killed tens of thousands of people. Joe and Amy Alton tell you how to stay safe in the hottest weather. All this and more in American Survival Radio #14!

American Survival Radio

The Altons

It’s A Cruel, Cruel Summer: Heat Waves

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house on fire burning

Well, Summer is here and the West is experiencing record high temperatures in a series of heat waves that may continue until Fall. Even worse, the scorching temperatures are igniting scores of wildfires that are threatening communities throughout the region.

Officials predicted a high-risk situation as the heat surpassed 100 degrees across much of Southern California; desert cities throughout Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico hit temperatures reaching the 120s. These temperatures place the more than 3,000 firefighters in the area in extreme danger for heat-related complications.

The power grid is being tested by the millions of air conditioning units set on “max cool”, and we can expect to see some major issues if the electricity goes out and people have to fight the heat with hand fans.

You might not consider a heat wave a natural disaster, but it most certainly is. Heat waves can cause mass casualties, as they did in Europe when 70,000 died of exposure (not in the Middle Ages, but in 2003). India, Pakistan, and other underdeveloped tropical countries experience thousands of heat-related deaths yearly. A pre-monsoon heat wave in April killed hundreds in the region. There are already several recorded deaths in the American West.

So how exactly does heat kill a person? Your body core regulates its temperature for optimal organ function. When core body temperature rises excessively (known as “hyperthermia”), damage occurs that leak toxins, cause cell death, and major inflammation. These deaths can occur very quickly without intervention, even in those who are physically fit. Even in modern times, hyperthermia carries a 10% death rate, mostly in the elderly and infirm.

The ill effects due to overheating are called “heat exhaustion” if mild to moderate; if severe, these effects are referred to as “heat stroke”. Heat exhaustion usually does not result in permanent damage, but heat stroke does; indeed, it can permanently disable or even kill its victim.  It is a medical emergency that must be diagnosed and treated promptly.

The risk of heat stroke correlates strongly to the “heat index”, a measurement of the effects of air temperature combined with high humidity.  Above 60% relative humidity, loss of heat by perspiration is impaired, increasing the chances of heat-related illness.  Exposure to full sun increases the reported heat index by as much as 10-15 degrees F.

Simply having muscle cramps or a fainting spell does not necessarily signify a major heat-related medical event. You will see “heat cramps” often in children that have been running around on a hot day.  Getting them out of the sun, massaging the affected muscles, and providing hydration will usually resolve the problem.

heat stroke vs heat exhaustion

In addition to muscle cramps and/or fainting, heat exhaustion is characterized by:

  • Confusion
  • Rapid pulse
  • Flushing
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Temperature elevation up to 105 degrees F

If no action is taken to cool the victim, heat stroke may ensue. Heat stroke, in addition to all the possible signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, will manifest as loss of consciousness, seizures or even bleeding (seen in the urine or vomit).  Breathing becomes rapid and shallow.

If not dealt with quickly, shock and organ malfunction may ensue, possibly leading to death. In heat stroke, the skin is likely to be hot to the touch, but dry; sweating might be absent.  The body makes efforts to cool itself down until it hits a temperature of 105-6 degrees or so. At that point, thermoregulation breaks down and the body’s ability to use sweating as a natural temperature regulator fails. In heat stroke, the body core can rise to 110 degrees Fahrenheit or more.

You’ll notice that the skin becomes red, not because it is burned, but because the blood vessels are dilating in an effort to dissipate some of the heat.

In some circumstances, the patient’s skin may actually seem cool.  It is important to realize that it is the body core temperature that is elevated. A person in shock may feel “cold and clammy” to the touch.  You could be misled by this finding, but simply taking a reading with a thermometer will reveal the patient’s true status.

heat-stroke

When overheated patients are no longer able to cool themselves, it is up to their rescuers to do the job. If hyperthermia is suspected, the victim should immediately:

  • Be removed from the heat source (for example, out of the sun).
  • Have their clothing removed.
  • Be drenched with cool water (or ice, if available)
  • Have their legs elevated above the level of their heart (the shock position)
  • Be fanned or otherwise ventilated to help with heat evaporation
  • Have moist cold compresses placed in the neck, armpit and groin areas

Why the neck, armpit and groin? Major blood vessels pass close to the skin in these areas, and cold packs will more efficiently cool the body core.

heat stroke graphic

Treating heat stroke: Only give fluids in someone that is awake and alert

Oral rehydration is useful to replace fluids lost, but only if the patient is awake and alert. If your patient has altered mental status, he or she might “swallow” the fluid into their airways; this causes damage to the lungs and puts you in worse shape than when you started.

Heat stroke is preventable in many cases. The Arizona state department of health recommends the following:

  • Drink at least 2 liters (about a half-gallon) of water per day if you are mostly indoors and 1 to 2 additional liters for every hour of outdoor time. Drink before you feel thirsty, and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing and use a sun hat or an umbrella to deflect the sun’s rays.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of large ones.
  • Avoid strenuous activity.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Take regular breaks if you must exert yourself on warm days.

In a heat wave, it’s important to check on the elderly, the very young, and the infirm regularly and often. These people have more difficulty seeking help, and you might just save a life if you’re vigilant. Know the warning signs and how to help those with hyperthermia.

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

Joe Alton, MD