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U of T expert on how to avoid heat stroke when the temperature climbs

Children play in the water at Lakefront Promenade Park Splash Pad in Mississauga, Ont. (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

With soaring temperatures and muggy conditions expected to linger in southern Ontario for the remainder of the week, residents should be on the lookout for signs of heat stroke and take precautions to keep themselves safe, a University of Toronto medical expert says.

“In my work as a sports medicine doctor, I would most commonly see heat illness in endurance sports, like marathons, and intensive outdoor training sessions, like in football,” says Dr. Mark Leung in this week’s edition of Doctor’s Notes, the Toronto Star’s weekly column written by U of T medical experts.

“But, you don’t have to be a serious athlete to experience these conditions.”

Leung writes that heat stroke is a potentially serious condition that can lead to damage to internal organs, including the brain. However, if the signs are recognized and treated early – through rapid cooling and by calling 911 – most people will survive the heat attack.

He further writes that there are two different types of heat stroke: classic heat stroke, which is related to being in an excessively hot environment and tends to affect the very young and very old; and exertional heat stroke, which tends to affect young, healthy adults who exercise in hot, humid environments. The former tends to have non specific symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and headache that present over days, while the onset of the latter can be much quicker, causing a person to collapse.

Leung suggests the following precautions to stay safe when the mercury climbs:

• Limit exertion during peak heat. Try to schedule it during the cooler times of day like first thing in the morning or later in the evening. If peak heat exertion is unavoidable, try to reduce your intensity accordingly.

• Dress for the weather. If you can, choose breathable, lightweight fabrics that will help you keep your cool.

Read the full Doctors' Notes column in the Toronto Star