Heat Exhaustion

May 20, 2019

One of the best time of the year has arrived, don’t we always just wait for summer to arrive? It’s time to relax and enjoy. However,  a few precautions you need to take to avoid yourself getting in trouble. One of the common problems seen due to such high temperatures is heat exhaustion.

It is a heat-related illness seen commonly due to prolonged exposure of the body to heat.

There are two types of  heat  exhaustion:

Water depletion which includes excessive thirst, weakness, headache and loss of consciousness.

Salt depletion which includes signs of nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and dizziness.

However, if untreated can result in one of the most damaging consequences- heat stroke. Heat stroke is seen when the body’s temperature is 104 degrees F or higher with serious medical consequences. If the body is not cooled within 30 minutes it can have damaging consequences.

Hence, it is very essential to check signs of heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion usually begins with heat cramps progressing to exhaustion and eventually causing a heat stroke.

During summer when the temperature is high the body gets warmed up but, the body also has the ability to cool itself through sweating,  the released sweat is further evaporated. However,  due to sweating, there is loss of essential body fluids and water. Hence, the main cause of heat exhaustion will be dehydration if adequate fluids are not replenished.

Signs and Symptoms to look for heat exhaustion include:

  • Profuse  sweating
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Light headedness
  • Muscle cramps

Further, if the temperature of the body is not cooled it may progress to stroke with symptoms of mental confusion, lethargy and may progress to seizure.

Treatment of Heat  Exhaustion:

Anyone experiencing heat exhaustion has to immediately get out of the heat and enter in a cool shady place.

The person is also needed to drink plenty of fluids to replace the lost fluid and avoid drinking dehydrators that may further deplete the hydration status.

Immediately wear loose fitting clothes and if possible take a bath. The main key line treatment would be to keep the person in a cooler environment followed by rehydrating body fluids.

Even after such preventive measure, the patient is still experiencing symptoms it is advisable to seek medical attention at the earliest.

 

Who is at risk for heat exhaustion?

  • Especially infants, children and elderly are at risk since their body dissipate heat at a much slower level compared to adults.
  • During this period of time, children have their summer holidays and are most likely to play in grounds therefore, exposing them at risk for heat exhaustion.
  • Those on medications such as antidepressants,  antipsychotics and tranquillizers impair the body’s ability to sweat.
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Being overweight or obese.

How can it be prevented?

Wear loose-fitting clothes: Wearing tight fitting clothes do not allow sweat to evaporate and therefore the body doesn’t cool itself leading to an increase in body temperature.

Protect against sunburn:

Using a sunscreen protects the skin from sunburn. Use a sunscreen with SPF 30  at least. Re-apply sunscreen after 2-3 hours or can be applied more if there is more sweating.

 

Drink plenty of fluids:

 

 

The ideal way to prevent heat exhaustion is to drink plenty of fluids and keeping yourself hydrated.

Taking precautions with certain medications: Certain medicine affects the body’s hydration status and further cause loss of fluids.

Never leave anyone in a parked car: One of the common causes of heat exhaustion. Since the temperature in the car can rise up to 6.7 degrees Celsius within 10 minutes. Hence, it is not advisable to keep a person inside a car.

Don’t forget to drink additional fluids if alcohol or caffeine is consumed.

To sum up,  even on the hottest days such incidences can be prevented by proper planning and taking necessary precautions.

Stay Safe and keep yourself hydrated!

Happy  Summer Holidays!

REFERENCES:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321972.php
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heat-exhaustion-heatstroke/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-heat-exhaustion/basics/art-20056651
  4. Groot, E., Abelsohn, A., & Moore, K. (2014). Practical strategies for prevention and treatment of heat-induced illness. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien60(8), 729–e394.

Harsheen Chaudhary

Hi, I am Dietitian Harsheen. I have completed my Masters in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. I am also a certified diabetes educator. Blogging is my passion and I love to share my piece of kno

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