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Be aware of hyperthermia, or overheating, in summer

You probably know the word "hypothermia" -- a dangerous condition brought on by extreme cold. Its summer cousin, "hyperthermia," is far less a part of the vernacular, although it can be just as deadly.

Hyperthermia occurs when a body becomes extremely overheated. Older adults are more at risk because of normal changes in the skin caused by aging. Cardiovascular problems and some prescription drugs also raise the risk. Because feelings of thirst are less sensitive in older adults, many don't drink enough water and become dehydrated. The majority of people who die from hyperthermia are 50 and older.

Signs of hyperthermia include feeling dizzy after you do any kind of activity in hot weather. But you don't have to be outside. Heat stroke -- the most deadly form of hyperthermia -- sometimes strikes seniors in their home because they are living without adequate air-conditioning or ventilation.

The National Institute on Aging has a tip sheet on hyperthermia at


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