Are You At Risk For Heat Related Illnesses?

Web Producer: Jason Beisel

After a long, cold winter, it's natural for many of us to overdo it when the warm spring weather finally hits.

If it's taking on too much lawn work, or exercising too much too early, heat related illnesses are often a problem even in the mild temperatures of spring. "Even a well tuned athlete or even a weekend warrior who doesn't appropriately prepare themselves, can get into trouble," Doctor Randy Wexler says.

Dr. Wexler of the Ohio State University Medical Center is a renowned expert on heat illnesses. He says there have been cases in which the body temperatures of long distance runners soared to a dangerous 105 degrees, even though the temperature outside was in the mid 70s.

Overdoing it any time is dangerous, even when it's mildly warm. There is also another risk you may not be aware of, one that puts people like Adam Rex at a higher risk of overheating. "Pet dander, dust, ragweed, pretty much everything I'm allergic to, to some extent," allergy patient Adam Rex says.

It's not his allergies that pose the risk, it's the medicine he takes to control them. Like many people, Adam often takes antihistamines, which dry up the allergy symptoms and can cause problems with the heat.

"Just by the mechanism of action of the antihistamines and how they work up to dry out your nose and stop the itchy eyes has effects on the body's abilities to sweat and dissipate heat. So, the use of antihistamines also increases your risk," Dr. Wexler says.

Doctors say it's important to know that you shouldn't stop taking antihistamines, just drink plenty of water when you do take them. And if you begin to overheat, ignore the temperature outside and listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

For serious athletes, ephedra and creatine can also pose a serious risk of overheating. And for you weekend warriors, mixing sports with alcohol can run you a higher risk of heat illness as well.