During the summer months, heat exhaustion can occur if you work out in the sun for too long without enough fluids, or if you’re too active during the heat of the day.
When you’re suffering from heat exhaustion, you’re in a serious condition. You can’t exercise, you’re not thinking clearly, you’re nauseated, and you’re probably sweaty.
The only thing to do is to get out of the heat and cool off as quickly as possible. This is a difficult task because staying cool usually requires you to drink large amounts of water or other liquids, which you’re probably not prepared to do.
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is unable to cope with heat and humidity.
Heat exhaustion will cause a person to become tired, flushed, dizzy, confused, and have a fast but weak pulse. If left untreated, a person can develop heatstroke, which is a more dangerous and life-threatening illness.
If you have heat exhaustion, you should eat a lot of water-rich foods, such as grapes, melons, watermelon, and coconut water, and foods that contain a lot of salt, such as pretzels.
Heat exhaustion generally does not require emergency medical treatment, but it is important to seek medical attention if your symptoms are severe. Heat exhaustion can quickly become heatstroke if you do not seek medical attention.
Causes of Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is a condition that occurs when the body’s heat-regulating mechanism breaks down, causing an imbalance between the body’s temperature and its ability to get rid of excess heat. A number of factors can contribute to heat exhaustion. These include:
- Not taking enough fluids.
- Not enough salt in the diet.
- Lack of air conditioning / poor air circulation.
- Not enough rest.
- Not enough exercise.
- Alcohol consumption
Signs of Heat Exhaustion and First Aid
Heat exhaustion is a condition that occurs when your body can’t cool itself down properly.
The most common heat exhaustion signs and symptoms are:
- Elevated body temperature with a corresponding decrease in body fluids
- Heavy sweating
- Feeling weak
- Pale skin
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of coordination
When you are experiencing heat exhaustion, it is a condition in which your body loses the ability to cool itself.
To treat heat exhaustion, try to follow the following steps:
- Rest & cool off in an air-conditioned area.
- Removing excess clothing
- Drink cool drinks to replenish fluids
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution)
- Apply cool wet cloths (or ice packs if available) to the skin, preferably the groin, armpits and neck.
- Avoid cooling the person by putting them in a bath, or spraying them with water
When suffering from heat exhaustion, it is best to eat foods that are high in salt, which will help replenish the fluids in your body.
Foods that are high in salt include:
- Saltine crackers
- Soup broth
- Chewing gum
- Salted nuts
- Pizza with extra cheese
- Spam Sausage
- Tortilla chips
Stages of Heat Emergency
Heatwaves are a growing problem worldwide.
In early summer, the weather condition starts to change and the temperature starting to rise. In a short while, this condition transforms into a “heat emergency” and at this stage, people start to get sick due to the heat.
Heat emergencies come in three stages, each of which indicates a higher level of danger to your health. Failure to identify and treat these stages appropriately can be fatal.
The following are the stages of a heat emergency:
- Stage 1 : Heat cramps — When the body’s temperature control system cannot effectively cool itself.
- Stage 2 : Heat exhaustion — When the body’s temperature-control system fails.
- Stage 3 : Heatstroke — When the body’s temperature-control system fails and the temperature inside the body rises significantly. It can lead to death or permanent brain damage.
Heat Exhaustion: Management and Prevention
Heat illness is a serious threat to your health and safety.
Heat exhaustion is a very common condition but so little is known about it. The average person doesn’t associate heat exhaustion with being over-heated, but it can happen to anyone.
The following tips will help you manage heat exhaustion. You should:
- Always drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
- Avoid taking salt tablets, as this can thicken your blood and can possibly develop chances of a blood clot.
- Eat small, frequent meals and snacks.
- Eat plenty of non-fat, non-caffeinated foods.
- Avoid strenuous activity.
- If you are exercising, try to do it in the morning or in the evening, when it is cooler.
- Wear comfortable or loose clothing.
- Get out of the heat and humidity as soon as you possibly can and get some fresh air.
- When you go outside, always take a bottle of water with you.
When you think of prevention, food to avoid should also be kept in mind.
Food is fuel and we can’t live without it, but too much of it can make you sick. Here is some advice that you should follow when you have heat exhaustion.
- You should not eat very salty or spicy food
- Avoid eating cold or frozen foods.
- You should not eat spicy foods
- Do not consume alcoholic beverages.
- Avoid high-protein foods, such as poultry, fish, and meat.
- You should also avoid eating greasy, heavy, or salty food.
Despite being careful enough, every heat exhaustion case is different.
You must always remember that heat exhaustion is a dangerous medical emergency. If not attended on time, what would likely happen next could be fatal.
Heat-related emergencies can happen at any time, when taking your kids to school or taking a trip to the store, for example. However, with heat-related emergencies, it can be hard to know when to worry, and what to do.
A lot of tips were stated above to help and guide individuals on how to steer clear off of heatstroke. Always keep in mind the signs and symptoms in order to react swiftly regarding the matter at hand.
Heat Exhaustion is a serious and potentially fatal condition that is most prevalent in hot climates (e.g. people working outdoors, athletes, and the elderly). Not only is Heat Exhaustion not being taken seriously, but it is also rarely diagnosed, although it is well known.
Dehydration is a major contributing factor to heat exhaustion, as your body is unable to produce enough sweat to keep your body cool.
You should always practice good hydration, moderate exercise and wear cool clothing. The combination of the three principles will help you to stay healthy.