SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Heat-related illness is on the rise in the United States, a study finds. Age and gender each appear to play a role.

According to a study conducted by FAIR Health, an organization with the largest repository of private health claims data in the U.S., there were 39 billion health claims filed in the months of May through December during the years 2016 through 2021, which were dealing with heat stress, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Not only are the health claims going up, but the study found that age appears to play a role. People 65 and older were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with heat stress.

Getty Images

As for gender, more men than women were diagnosed.

Another study conducted by the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources of The University of Connecticut found that heat is the top cause of exertion-related injuries and fatalities for laborers.

Using data reported to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), the team found that of all injuries and fatalities, about 3 percent were exertion related. Of that 3 percent, a staggering 89 percent were related to heat stress.

Getty Images

This week is designated as South Carolina Heat Safety Week.

Heat is the #1 weather-related killer in the United States.

This week is used to raise awareness about the risk of extreme heat to provide preparedness information and actions to take to prevent heat-related illnesses and death.

Getty Images

During extremely hot and humid weather, your body’s ability to cool itself is challenged. When the body heats too rapidly to cool itself properly, or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating, body temperature rises and you or someone you care about may experience a heat-related illness.

It’s important to know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a list of warning signs and symptoms of heat illness and recommended first aid steps. Some of these symptoms and steps are listed below.

Getty Images

Heat cramps may be the first sign of heat-related illness, and may lead to heat exhaustion or stroke.

*Symptoms ~ painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in legs and abdomen and heavy sweating.

*First Aid ~ apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water unless the person complains of nausea, then stop giving water.

Seek immediate medical attention if cramps last longer than one hour.

Heat Exhaustion

*Symptoms ~ heavy sweating, weakness or tiredness, cool, pale, clammy skin; fast, weak pulse, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, headache, fainting.

* First Aid ~ move person to a cooler environment, preferably a well air conditioned room. Loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths or have person sit in a cool bath. Offer sips of water. If person vomits more than once, seek medical attention.

Heat Stroke

*Symptoms ~ throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, hot, red, dry or damp skin, rapid and strong pulse, fainting, loss of consciousness.

*First Aid ~ Call 911 or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Delay can be fatal.