Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Knowing the signs of heat exhaustion can potentially save your life or the life of those you love.  Heat exhaustion is the body’s way of telling people to get out of the sun and replenish themselves with vital fluids before suffering a heat stroke, which could lead to death.  Heat exhaustion occurs after exposing the body to high temperatures and not adequately replacing the fluids that are lost.  Usually, when the body gets too hot, it cools itself through sweating.  However, if you sweat more fluids than you drink throughout a given time period, than the body will start to produce more heat than it can release, which will result in heat exhaustion. 

Some people are more at risk for heat exhaustion than others, especially the elderly, young children, and those who are overweight or have high blood pressure.  Although these people are more at risk, even the healthiest people can experience heat exhaustion from working or exercising in hot environments for too long without the proper amount of liquid intake.

There are several warning signs of heat exhaustion, and steps should be taken if people experience any of them while outside in the summer heat.  The signs and symptoms often begin suddenly and are similar to a person who is in shock, because when you have heat exhaustion your body is basically in shock.  The following are common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion:

-heavy sweating


-muscle cramps





-nausea or vomiting


-slight fever

-cool, moist skin

-fast and weak pulse

-fast and shallow breathing 

Upon feeling any of these symptoms or recognizing them in another person, it is important to take precautionary steps before they become worse.  The victim needs to be removed from direct heat.  If possible, get them into an air conditioned room, or at least under shade.  They should lie down with their legs and feet slightly elevated, and given a cool, non-alcoholic beverage that is not caffeinated.  Allow them to rest and, if possible, a cool shower or bath would help their body return to a normal temperature.  If the symptoms persist for me than an hour, medical assistance should be sought.  You should also seek medical attention if the victim has severe symptoms, heart problems, high blood pressure, or if they are elderly. 

Heat exhaustion could be serious, but in many cases it is just the body’s way of saying to consume liquids and get out of the heat.  So before it becomes something more serious, it is important to keep drinking water while enjoying the summer sun.