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Heat Exhaustion : Symptoms, Treatment And Recovery Time

heat exhaustion

 “The thing with heat is, no matter how cold you are, no matter how much you need warmth, it always, eventually, becomes too much.” – Victoria Aveyard

Heat exhaustion reflects the same. It is a condition that occurs when you are exposed to too much heat. In simple terms, we can say, it causes overheating of the body due to exposure to high temperatures.

Heat exhaustion is a very common phenomenon, especially in summers. Although not as threatening as a heat stroke, heat exhaustion is still a dangerous health illness that can cause many complications.

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 of heat exhaustion

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

The symptoms include-

  • a sudden drop in blood pressure upon exerting yourself
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Nausea
  • 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 color
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme thirst

Best treatments for heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion can be irritating and overwhelming. However, most of it is mild and moderate and can be easily treated. 

Fortunately, making a few lifestyle adjustments and maintaining your hydration levels can prevent the incidence of heat exhaustion in the first place. You can treat it by taking into account the best treatment methods, both naturally and medically.

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. 

  • The foremost thing to do is to REST. If you are already exhausted, do not give too much stress to your mind and body and just rest.
  • If you are somewhere in a hot environment, make sure you move to a shady area as soon as possible. 
  • Wear light-colored, 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.
  • Cannot stress this enough, but keep yourself hydrated as much as you can. Dehydration is one of the quickest outcomes of heat exhaustion,

As already discussed, the symptoms of dehydration can lead to many other health conditions. Consuming an adequate amount of fluids is the best way to keep yourself recharged and replenish the lost electrolytes. 

Estimated recovery time: Well, if it’s mild to moderate heat exhaustion, the above-mentioned ways will easily help your recovery within a couple of hours. 

When do you need medical help to treat heat exhaustion?

 If your symptoms persist for a longer time than usual 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 behavior. 

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 natural electrolyte drinks like-

  • Coconut water
  • Milk
  • Fruit juices
  • Electrolyte 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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