LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Even though summer is still more than a week away, the Pineywoods is feeling the heat as East Texans are out enjoying the sun.
However, for those going out into the heat, sunburns aren't the only thing to worry about.
"In summertime, we worry about heat injuries of different types,” said Matthew Winters, a physician assistant at CHI St. Luke's Memorial. “From mild dehydration all the way to heatstroke."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 600 people die from a heat-related death every year nationwide. Winters said it's due to people no realizing they're dehydrated, which if left untreated, can progress to heat exhaustion and eventually heat stroke.
"The important thing is the earlier people catch it, the easier it is to treat it and the less likely they are to come in and see us," Winters said.
What are some of the signs of dehydration?
"Feeling tired, feeling a sense of thirst, feeling a headache, a headache is a sign that your body is out of balance,” Winters explained. “People who are feeling a bit dizzy or a bit weak, those are all signs."
Winters also suggested checking the color of urine. If it is light, it is a sign of hydration. If it is a dark, it is a sign of dehydration.
People who are out in the sun more or are exerting more energy are likely to get dehydrated quickly, as well as people who are overweight or use alcohol or certain medications. While drinking a lot of water is helpful, sometimes it is not enough to stay hydrated.
“When you are taking in fluids, you want to make sure you're not only drinking water, but also replacing electrolytes you may be losing," Winters said.
According to Winters, caffeine increases the chances of becoming dehydrated. He suggested if you know you're going out into the heat, instead of getting a Coke or coffee, you might want to opt for a water or a sports drink."
Winters said the best way to avoid a heat event this summer is be smart, stay out of the sun as much as possible, wear light clothing, and stay hydrated.
For those that begin to experience a high fever or cramping, it means their dehydration has progressed into heat exhaustion and they need to seek professional medical attention for proper treatment immediately.
"As it gets hot this summer, as the humidity rises, people need to take care of themselves so that we don't have to take care of them, Winters said.