Be Careful – It’s HOT outside! Heat Exhaustion 101

Be Careful – It’s HOT outside! Heat Exhaustion 101

Heat Exhaustion is a heat related illness that  can happen after being exposed to hot temperatures for a long time.  People who are overweight, have diabetes or hypertension, are under 4  or over 65 years old, or are taking certain medicines (like diuretics, beta blockers, antipsychotics or antihistamines) are more likely to have problems in this situation but anyone who is working or exercising outside is at increased risk.  Heat exhaustion is more common when the heat index is up – if the temperature is over 90 degrees and it’s humid.

Some  signs of Heat Exhaustion are:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Pale skin
  • Rapid heartbeat

Treatment is – you guessed it – GET OUT OF THE HEAT – preferably into an air conditioned area and rest.   It is also a good idea to drink cool fluids (without alcohol or caffeine), remove any extra clothing, take a cool shower, apply cool towels, use a fan to circulate cool air to speed cooling.  If you aren’t feeling better within 15 minutes it would be a good idea to go to the ER for help as heat exhaustion can progress if not treated.  If someone is confused, passes out or isn’t able to drink cool fluids they should go ahead and go to the ER for treatment without delay.  Untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke with body temperatures going over 104 degrees and lead to the brain, kidneys, heart and muscles and even death.

Preferable still is to avoid heat exhaustion – wear loose fitting, light weight clothing, drink a lot of fluids, avoid exertion in the middle of the day, limit exercising or working in the heat until your body gets more used to it, avoid alcohol use, and if you start to get muscle cramps and feeling overheated STOP what you are doing and get in a cool area and drink fluids so it doesn’t progress.

After having an episode of heat exhaustion you will be more sensitive to heat over the next week or so, so avoid exercising or working outside in the heat during this time.

Read more information from the CDC about heat illnesses by clicking here.

***Note *** This post, like all my other posts, is for general medical information only and is not to be taken as direct advice.  Please consult your personal physician for more information.

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