Emergency physicians expect to see an increase in patients with heat-related illnesses this week as hot and humid conditions blanket the region.
Children under age 5 and elderly people are among those most vulnerable to heat-related stress. But anyone can succumb to excessive heat, especially if they don't have access to air conditioning or if they're participating in strenuous outdoor activities.
Even people who are relaxing can overheat if they drink the wrong beverages, said Dr. Casey Woster, an emergency department physician at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
"[Remember] that beer and alcohol and soda can actually lead to dehydration," Woster said. "So if it's hot out and you're outside, it's more important to drink water and Gatorade and things like that."
Woster said feeling lightheaded or confused can be signs of heat-related illnesses or heatstroke.
He also said that people may presume they're OK if they stop sweating, but that's a mistake.
"Actually, people become more ill once they stop sweating," Woster said. "So I think if you notice that you're sweating and now you're not sweating as much, it might be a good chance for you to start taking some more fluids and get out of the sun."
Even people who become mildly dehydrated can be at a higher risk of heat-related illnesses in subsequent days if hot conditions persist.
Most of the people he treats for heat-related problems are older patients or people who have jobs that require them to work outside.