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Health Education Blog

How to Recognize and Prevent Heat Exhaustion

Posted by Staff on June 22, 2018

young woman with heat strokeThe official start of summer brings the fun of outdoor activities, summer camps, vacations -- and high temperatures. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of activities and a more relaxed routine, forgetting to take proper care of ourselves and our loved ones when the temperatures get into the triple digits. High temperatures combined with strenuous physical activity can lead to heat exhaustion. Luckily, with the right knowledge and precautions it’s completely preventable.

Learn to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and what you can do to protect yourself and others in the information below from the Mayo Clinic:

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It's one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion may develop suddenly or over time, especially with prolonged periods of exercise. Possible heat exhaustion signs and symptoms include:

  • Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
  • Heavy sweating
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Low blood pressure upon standing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache

Causes

Your body's heat combined with environmental heat results in what's called your core temperature — your body's internal temperature. Your body needs to regulate the heat gain (and, in cold weather, heat loss) from the environment to maintain a core temperature that's normal, approximately 98.6 F (37 C).

In hot weather, your body cools itself mainly by sweating. The evaporation of your sweat regulates your body temperature. However, when you exercise strenuously or otherwise overexert in hot, humid weather, your body is less able to cool itself efficiently

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You can protect yourself against heat exhaustion, especially when the temperatures are going to hit triple digits, by doing the following:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or sports drinks with electrolytes
  • Wear light and loose-fitting clothing
  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF at least every two hours
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when you’re outside
  • Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day
  • Evaluate how you’re feeling throughout the day – if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, find an air-conditioned or shady place to rest.

Call a doctor or visit a health care clinic if any symptoms you’re experiencing don’t improve within an hour or two, you become confused or agitated, faint, or your core body temperature reaches 104 F or higher.

***It's important to distinguish between heath exhaustion and heatstroke***

Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death. If you think you're experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help.

heat stroke symptoms

If you think yourself or someone else is experiencing heat exhaustion, visit The Medical Specialty Center – Your Every Day Health Care Clinic – at Orchard Hospital. Walk-ins are welcome. Open 7 days a week. It’s our goal to have fast and friendly care while delivering quality health care.

Our mission at Orchard Hospital is to provide our community with superior health care. We strive to ensure that your experience at Orchard Hospital is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Our priority is to provide you with the care you need when you need it, with skill, compassion, and respect.

Topics: Healthy Lifestyle, Prevention, Physical Activity

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