The Symptoms, Causes, and Cure for Heat Exhaustion

With August heat now bearing down on us, heat exhaustion is something we have to worry about. If you “don’t handle heat well,” you might want to be on the lookout. Often silent, heat exhaustion is a more common issue than you might think. Gone unchecked, it can cause some serious issues.

The Symptoms, Causes, and Cure for Heat Exhaustion

You might not think “I’m warm” is a valid reason to go to an urgent care center, but it absolutely is. A silent killer, heat exhaustion can do serious damage to your body. Despite not being commonly talked about, you’ve still likely been warned about it since you were a child. The fact of the matter is this: heat exhaustion will put an end to a fun summer day in a hurry.

We’ve discussed heat exhaustion before, but it bears repeating: don’t let the heat beat you down. A mild sunburn can quickly become a hospital trip, so be wary. If you are especially susceptible to the heat, you should familiarize yourself with prevention tactics. Heat exhaustion is not a joke, even if it is frequent in comedies. If you don’t have issues with the heat, you should still be on the lookout. Confidence can be a killer.

The Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

One of the more difficult parts of heat exhaustion is the timing. It can appear in a flash, or slowly over time. In many ways, you would probably prefer it happened quickly. Unfortunately, slowly developing symptoms can often leave this issue unchecked, as you might misdiagnose what’s going on. You need to know what to look for as symptoms develop, and be comfortable seeking medical attention, as it is a real possibility that you’ll need it.

A telltale sign of heat exhaustion is having cool, moist skin, even when it’s hot outside. Like a reverse fever, this illness can leave you feeling cool when you’re actually overheating. It will also make you dizzy, faint, and leave you sweating heavily, which are not uncommon in heat. Things will ramp up from there into fatigue, a weak pulse, low blood pressure, muscle cramps, nausea, and headaches. If you notice these symptoms, take action immediately. You might pass out, which could worsen things significantly.

To help, stop all activity, find shade or go indoors, and hydrate. If symptoms do not improve after you’ve done this, seek medical attention immediately.

The Causes of Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion has one simple cause: your body isn’t cooling itself as well as it should. It’s no more complicated than that. Your body cools itself naturally by sweating, but, in some scenarios, it can’t keep up with the heat you’re experiencing. This is most likely to show itself if you are exerting yourself in the heat, so be wary of activities like running. There are also temperatures that simply make it too hot to function. Temperatures upwards of 95 degrees are a slight risk, while temperatures of above 100 are seriously concerning. Humidity also plays an important role in this, as it can make it harder for you to breathe, which circulates your temperature.

Other causes include dehydration, overdressing, and alcohol. Dehydration takes away your ability to sweat, which is your bodies natural reaction to being overly warm. Alcohol has a similar effect, as it slows down your core processes. This makes it harder for your body to regulate its temperature and thus will lead to heat exhaustion. This is particularly concerning because it also slows your reaction, which can make it hard to notice symptoms. Finally, too many layers of clothing create a heat trap, which is obviously harmful on hot days.

The Cure for Heat Exhaustion

For peripheral causes, the solution to heat exhaustion is simple. Drink a lot of water when it’s hot out, and you’ll be fine. Don’t drink too much alcohol, or you’ll have issues. And dress for the weather, because it can help you stay healthy. The root cause, however, is a bit more difficult to handle. As with many things, it’s best to prevent heat exhaustion rather than try to cure it.

The first step you can take towards preventing heat exhaustion is to wear sunscreen. Heat exhaustion is similar to a sunburn, so anything you would do to prevent that should help. You should also check any medication you use to make sure that it doesn’t affect your ability to adapt to the temperature. If you are concerned about your medication, speak to a doctor. And, finally, don’t work too hard in the sun. Stay in the shade, and you’ll be a-okay.

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