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High temperatures bring threat of illness to Big Country

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ABILENE, Texas - Heat index values in the Big Country are in the triple digits this week in the Big Country, bringing concerns of heat-related illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion to local medical professionals' minds.

"In fact, almost half of all deaths associated with heat illnesses are those over 65 and those with disabilities," said Brian Sorensen, the medical director for the Hendrick Medical Center E.R. "Those with chronic medical problems and multiple medications are particularly at risk as well."

People who spend long periods of time outdoors need to be aware of their enhanced risk of suffering from a heat related illness.

Sorensen told KTXS News that the big thing is to know the signs and symptoms of onset heat illnesses.

Lack of sweating or dehydration will lead to an increase in body temperature. Dizziness or fatigue are also symptoms, along with vomiting or shortness of breath. It's important to note that these will not always show up together, sometimes it can be just one or two of these symptoms.

Once you conclude that someone is likely suffering from heat stroke or heat exhaustion, you need to take quick action. Get that person out of the heat as fast as possible, take them to a cooler environment and hydrate them. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, it's best to call 911.

According to Sorensen, the best way to prevent heat illness is to take practical precautions.

"Looking at the weather, knowing when to get out, knowing what you're wearing and drinking even when you're not thirsty -- these are early things you can do to prevent heat related illnesses," Sorensen said.

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