Dangers and Prevention of Heat Exhaustion

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Heat exhaustion is defined as the depletion of body fluids caused by overexposure to heat from sunlight or other sources of heat. Dehydration causes dizziness, nausea, weakness, chills, light headedness, headaches and unconsciousness. Heat exhaustion is usually not fatal, but the depletion of ion, mineral and water in the body can cause painful spasms of the muscles.

During heat exhaustion, the temperature of the body rises, but it’s not as elevated as in a heatstroke. However, exhaustion from heat can be fatal if left untreated.

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Seniors, infants and children are highly at risk for heat exhaustion because their bodies do not contain a high amount of water. They can become dehydrated quickly. Seniors who already take medications and suffer chronic illnesses will have a hard time maintaining their normal body temperature.

If heat exhaustion is not treated immediately, it can lead to a heatstroke. When someone suffers from a heatstroke, he is in danger of getting permanent brain damage or organ damage. Worse, he can die from severe dehydration and stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include an unusually high body temperature, hot or dry skin caused by the inability of the body to sweat, rapid pulse, slurred speech, nausea and confusion.

To prevent experiencing heat exhaustion, one has to remember to dress in loose or lightweight clothes to avoid the body from becoming overheated. Clothing that is made from natural fibers like silk or cotton allows air to circulate between the body and the clothing, so overheating does not happen. A person should always try to stay in the shade, or if one has to be out in the sun, he should wear a hat or use an umbrella. Stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible.

Whether doing activities indoors or outdoors, one should always remember to stay hydrated. A dehydrated body can easily heat up and can develop symptoms of heat exhaustion more quickly than a body that is properly hydrated. Drinking eight to ten ounces of water before going out into the sun can prevent the body from becoming dehydrated easily. In extreme temperatures while doing activities outdoors, drinking four to eight ounces of water every hour is highly recommended.

One should also choose the kind of fluids they take in as not all fluids have the same composition. Drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine and those that are sugary are not very ideal to take. Natural, unsweetened juices and water are the more ideal fluids that rehydrate the body. They are high in potassium content – a substance which the body needs.

When one suffers from heat exhaustion, he should be taken indoors or a shaded area where he can cool down. He should drink lots of fluids to rehydrate. A mixture of water and salt should be given to him, along with wet clothes which he can put on himself to allow his body to cool down faster.

Christopher has been working as a home and office consultant for the past 15 years. He is happily retired and writes articles and weblogs in his downtime. His newest interest is in teck deck ramps. Come check out his website to learn more at teckdeckramps.org.


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