CCHHS Expects to See an Increase in Hospital Visits During Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza is a time of fun and most importantly, great music. But Cook County Health & Hospitals System warned that summer musical festivals like Lollapalooza can also be a dangerous time for concert-goers because of excessive drug and alcohol intakes.

CCHHS’ John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital typically sees an uptick in emergency room visits during the three-day festival, which starts Aug. 3 in Grant Park. Last year, more than 260 people were transported to Chicago hospitals during Lollapalooza.

“The combination of hot weather, people dancing in large crowds and being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol can lead to dehydration and high body temperatures, which can be very dangerous,” said Dr. Steve Aks, an emergency medicine physician and medical toxicologist at Stroger Hospital.

Too much alcohol is the leading reason Lollapalooza festival-goers are treated at Stroger. Dr. Aks also urges people to stay away from synthetic drugs like synthetic pot.

“Synthetic marijuana is marketed as being similar to cannabis, but it actually can be a lot more potent than THC, the active ingredient in cannabis,” Dr. Aks said. “These mind-altering synthetic cannabinoids can raise a person’s heart rate and cause blood supply to their heart to drop, potentially resulting in a life-threatening shock.”

Similarly, other synthetic drugs, such as “bath salts,” “ecstasy” or “Molly,” may have a different potency than the drug they replaced and have unexpected, dangerous effects.

“You’re better off avoiding drugs and just enjoying the music,” Dr. Aks said.

Before the festival begins, Dr. Aks recommended you pay attention to where the medical tents are located at the Lollapalooza, just in case.

To stay safe, people should also drink plenty of water and watch for signs of heat exhaustion like muscle cramps, nausea and feeling cold or clammy while still sweating. Dehydration, meanwhile, can leave you feeling thirsty, dizzy and tired.

And don’t forget your sunscreen, even if it looks like it will be a cloudy day.