What you should know about heat exaustion

Heat exhaustion is a condition that is caused by being exposed to high temperatures for a long period of time. It is a heat-related illness and is often accompanied by dehydration. Heat exhaustion may also be known as sunstroke. The main symptoms include a rapid pulse, heavy sweating, both of which are caused by your body overheating after being exposed to high temperatures. Heat exhaustion is preventable. It is estimated that heat exhaustion and heat-related illnesses in general affects millions of people in the United States at some point in their lives.

There are two types of heat exhaustion: water depletion and salt depletion. Water depletion signs include muscle cramps, loss of consciousness, weakness, and thirst. Salt depletion signs include dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting. Heat exhaustion is not as serious at heat stroke, however it can still be a very serious condition that requires medical attention. If a person develops heat exhaustion and does not seek treatment, it can lead to heat stroke. Heat stroke can eventually cause brain damage, damage of other organs, and can even be fatal. 


The most common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include fatigue, headache, pale skin, rapid heartbeat, profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, abdominal cramps, fainting, dizziness, dark-colored urine (which is a sign of dehydration), and confusion. The causes of heat exhaustion may include being exposed to high temperatures (especiallywhen associated with being in an environment of high humidity), and participating in strenuous physical activity. The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion may develop suddenly or over a longer period of time. This is especially true with prolonged periods of physical activity or exercise. It is important to get treatment as soon as you notice these signs and symptoms because without immediate treatment, heat exhaustion can leadlife-threatening complications such as heatstroke. 

The most important thing you can do when you notice signs or symptoms of heat exhaustion is to find a way to cool down your body temperature. Treatments option for heat exhaustion include getting out of the sun and heat as soon as possible, drinking cold water or any cold drink (but avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol), getting rest, laying down an air-conditioned room, taking a cold shower or bath, icing your neck and back, andpossibly even going to the hospital where they may administerIV fluids.