Wellness

Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

heat exhaustion

Overview

Heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness in which you experience symptoms like heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, that overheats your body. It mainly happens due to exposure to high temperatures.

Heat exhaustion is categorized into two types:

  1. Water depletion: Signs include excessive thirst, weakness, headache, and loss of consciousness.
  2. Salt depletion: Signs include nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness.

How does heat exhaustion occur?

Heat exhaustion can occur when your body temperature rises and you are not able to cool yourself down quickly within time. 

There are many causes associated with heat exhaustion.

  • The main reason why heat exhaustion occurs is due to high temperatures and high humidity, especially in summers. This can happen anywhere, be it you moving around out in scorching heat or sitting inside a car with no AC.
  • If you practice high-intensity exercise in a heated and humid climate, that can also become a potential cause of sudden heat exhaustion.
  • One of the most crucial causes of heat exhaustion is dehydration. When your body is low on fluids and important electrolytes, it may become prone to rapid heat exhaustion quite sooner than you can even imagine.
  • A change in weather and temperature is important to prevent heat exhaustion. If you live in a hot environment for quite a long time, your body temperature eventually rises to lead to heat exhaustion.

Symptoms

The symptoms of heat exhaustion vary to the extent of the condition. They start from temporary, everyday symptoms to some serious ones as well.

  • a sudden drop in blood pressure upon exerting yourself
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fizziness
  • Feeling of fainting or blacking out now and then
  • sweating profusely from many areas of the body
  • Changes in skin (moist, cool, or cold)
  • On and off weak and rapid pulse rate
  • Constant headache and fatigue
  • Heavy and pressured feeling in the head
  • muscle cramping

Heat exhaustion and dehydration

Dehydration occurs along with heat exhaustion. If you are suffering from heat exhaustion, it is very likely to get dehydrated as well. 

Along with the symptoms of heat exhaustion, you may also experience these dehydrations symptoms-

  • Sunken soft spot
  • Sunken eyes
  • Delayed urination
  • Crankiness
  • Dark urine colour
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme thirst

Easy tips and tricks to prevent heat exhaustion

You can catch hold of the best methods to cure your heat exhaustion right at your home. 

  • If you are suffering from heat exhaustion, the foremost thing to do is to REST.  You have to try to find the closest cool and shady place,  preferably an air-conditioned room.
  • Wear light-coloured, loose clothes to facilitate the movement of air in and out of your body. Remove heavy clothing or accessories.
  • Apply ice packs or towels soaked in cold water to your body. Placing these on your forehead, your wrists, the back of your neck, or under your arms can be particularly effective.
  • Keep yourself hydrated as much as you can (avoid caffeine and alcohol). Dehydration is one of the quickest outcomes of heat exhaustion. Consuming an adequate amount of fluids is the best way to keep yourself recharged and replenish the lost electrolytes.

When do you need medical help to treat heat exhaustion?

 If your symptoms persist for a longer time than 15 minutes with constant high body temperature, it can be a serious sign and you may need a doctor immediately.

In severe cases of heat exhaustion, it can lead to heatstroke especially if you have an internal body temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. In this case, you immediately need medical attention.

Keep observing the symptoms you are facing, especially for flushed skin, vomiting, and cognitive behaviour. 

Also, make sure you consult your doctor regarding any prescription medications you might be consuming as these can also contribute to heat exhaustion by increasing the body temperature.

Role of electrolyte drinks in preventing heat exhaustion

Electrolyte drinks play a very important role in treating heat exhaustion, taking into consideration the fact that dehydration is also a potential accomplice with heat exhaustion.

When you suffer from heat exhaustion, you sweat profusely leading to a great amount of electrolyte and fluid loss from the body. Water alone may not be able to make up for all the loss, especially electrolytes.

So you will need sports and energy drinks to replenish the minerals that were lost from sweating. The natural and artificial electrolyte drinks provide a more concentrated and targeted amount of electrolytes ( also keeping caution as they have excess sugar too).

Obviously, making them your primary go-to drink would not be a healthy choice, but within hot weather and heat exhaustive environments, one energy drink a day is just fine to consume. It will be a better decision if you choose the natural electrolyte drinks like:

  • Coconut water
  • Milk
  • Fruit juices
  • Smoothies

Bottom Line

Heat exhaustion is common and can happen to anyone in general. However, if you lag in taking the right step and efforts on time to treat it, it can lead to heat strokes which are far worse.

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