Heat Exhaustion

It is important to know the signs of heat exhaustion because it could be a critical factor in saving a life. Every year there are deaths reported because of overexposure to heat. It is important to not let your body temperature rise too much because it can lead to heat stroke which is life threatening. The body cools itself by sweating so water is very important during the summer. More sweat means more water loss and that is water that needs to be replaced. Increased exposure to high temperatures and increased activity has a limit and if exposed for too long the body will overheat much like a car engine running in the red.

It is important to know the signs of heat exhaustion so that heat stroke can be prevented.

Sweating – Prolonged heavy sweating is a signal that the body is trying as hard as it can to cool itself down. The best course of action would be to stop physical activity and get to a cooler place. The water that is lost through sweating will need to be replaced and thirst is another resulting signal.

Fatigue – Being tired is a way that the body tries to shut down. Dizziness, headaches, shaking, muscle cramps, feeling weak and any other physical discomfort should not be ignored when at risk for heat exhaustion.

Nausea – Diarrhea, and vomiting can occur during heat exhaustion. It may be difficult to hold down food. Drinking Gatorade can replace the electrolytes to help stabilize the digestive system.  

Respiratory – Breathing patterns may change becoming shallow and heartbeat become more rapid with a weak pulse. This may also be a sign of heat stroke depending on the severity.

Pale skin – The skin will be cool or clammy to the touch and have a pale appearance. In some cases the skin will feel hot because of direct exposure. It is best to have loose clothing that prevents direct exposure to the sun.

Being cognizant of these warning signs can be the difference in saving a life. Some people are more at risk than others so it would be good to pay attention to coworkers, a teammate, or an elderly person to help them if they start showing signs of heat exhaustion. Many people will continue without realizing what they are doing to themselves. Heat stroke can occur suddenly regardless of how fit a person may be.