LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - The CDC reported last year that heat was the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the last 30 years, and East Texas doctors are reminding their patients of the seriousness of recent heat advisories.
The sun was beating down on a crew from Leal Landscaping in Lufkin. Trying to keep in the shade, they say the high temperatures from the past few weeks have made their work more physically demanding.
“Especially now in these times, the humidity has been getting to us a lot,” worker Francisca Santana said.
Dr. Jeremy Chester at Woodland Heights Medical Center says that road workers, contractors, or landscapers who have to work outside have to be more conscious of heat exhaustion.
“Some of the people in the lumber mills will get overheated and they will come in," Chester said.
However, he says they become accustomed to it over time, and that those who work indoors are more likely to suffer heat-related health problems sooner.
“Those who work indoors do not get acclimatized to the heat, and so they would be at an increased risk of going outside and start having some heavy sweating, they might feel weak, they might feel dizzy," Chester said.
Dr. Chester says his emergency staff sees cases of heatstroke and dehydration frequently, whether they are used to being in the heat or not.
“There’s some talk in the literature of chronic fatigue being due to some people being dehydrated. Other people, we see this a lot in the summer, come in with kidney stones because they’re not drinking enough fluids,” Chester said.
According to Dr. Chester, monitoring fluids is the best way to prevent any of these conditions.
“If you were to be outside working and went from sweating and feeling bad to not sweating at all, then that would be a very serious sign that they need to come in immediately. When the body loses the ability to sweat, then you can go from heat exhaustion to heatstroke,” Chester said.
Research from the CDC also found that even though all heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, an average of 658 people succumb to extreme heat each year.