Heat Exhaustion by Dorcas Eaves, M.D.
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are more likely to happen during the summer; it is important to take safety measures to avoid heat-related illness. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion occur when the body cannot keep itself cool. When the body’s temperature elevates too quickly and too high, illness and other medical conditions can occur. Heat stroke is the more serious condition, but heat exhaustion is also significant. Heat prostration aka heat exhaustion is caused when the body is overheated by weather and/or physical exercise. The body’s temperature can reach up to 104 degrees. Babies and young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with severe chronic illnesses are at the highest risk for heat-related illness.
- The skin may not be hot, flushed or clammy.
- There may be excessive sweating, rapid pulse, headache, nausea and/or vomiting, dizziness, muscle and/or stomach cramps.
- Elevated temperature, but less than 104 degrees.
- Get the ill person out of the sun.
- Replace the body’s fluids and salt by having the person drink lots of water, Gatorade, decaffeinated iced tea or juice.
- Cool the person’s body with fans, cool towels, or sprays.
- Keep the person out of the sun for the next 12-24 hours.
- Avoid over exposure to extreme heat.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Limit physical exercise during high temperatures.
- Wear light clothing.
- Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can be prevented.
- Stay cool, avoid aggressive physical activity in high temperatures, and always remain properly hydrated.
- Never leave a person or pet unattended in a parked car.
- Seek medical attention if a person shows any signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.