Article #7: Heat Exhaustion
How to recognize it, treat it and prevent it.
As its name implies, Heat Exhaustion occurs when your body gets too hot. The brain controls the body's core temperature. Normally, the body cools itself by sweating. But if you are exposed to high temperatures for a long time (working outdoors in the summer) and don't replace your fluids, your temperature-regulation system is overwhelmed and heat exhaustion occurs. Untreated, this can progress to heat stroke, a life-threatening condition.
Know the warning signs:
Immediate treatment makes the difference.
- Heavy sweating
- Pale and clammy skin
- Rapid heart rate
- Mild temperature elevations (If temp rises to greater than 103 or if coma/seizure occurs heat stroke may have developed. Call 911 immediately.)
Fortunately, the primary treatment of heat exhaustion is easy: rest in a cool environment and drink cool fluids. Water or sport drinks containing electrolytes usually are enough to reverse dehydration. Also spray your self down with water or immerse yourself in a cool bath. And loosen your clothing.
Heat exhaustion is preventable.
If you anticipate being out in warm weather for long periods of physical activity, be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your activity. Wear light and loose fitting clothing. Avoid alcohol, and limit caffeine and sugar. And give yourself adequate break time.
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