It’s important to know how to identify the warning signs of heat exhaustion. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke. Heatstroke can cause irreversible damage to your brain and vital organs, and it can even be fatal. Here’s what to look for, and how to treat heat exhaustion.
What causes heat exhaustion?
Heat illnesses occur when your body has difficulty keeping itself cool. Certain things increase your risk for heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and heat-related illnesses.
- Exposure to high temperatures combined with high humidity.
- Spending an extended period of time in the heat.
- Physical exertion in high temperatures; this includes exercise, work, and play.
- Young children and older adults are at a higher risk for heat illness.
- Wearing heavy, tight-fitting, and dark clothing in high temperatures.
- Dehydration increases the risk for heat-related illnesses.
Sometimes the factors that increase your risk for heat illness cannot be avoided, and sometimes heat-related illnesses set in even if your take precautions. Make sure you know how to identify heat exhaustion.
Warning signs of heat exhaustion
Recognize the warning signs of heat exhaustion. If treatment is delayed, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke. Heatstroke can be fatal or cause permanent disability.
- Heavy sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Stomach pain
- Rapid breathing
- Fast, weak pulse
Heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke
If you notice the warning signs of heat exhaustion, take action right away.
- Move the person indoors to an air-conditioned environment.
- Remove unnecessary clothing.
- Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages to rehydrate; water or sports drinks are good options.
- Replenish electrolytes: sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, phosphate, and magnesium.
- Apply cold compresses around the head, face, and neck.
- Stop activity and rest.
- Monitor symptoms for one hour. Seek medical attention if they do not improve, or if they get worse.
You can go to an urgent care clinic for heat exhaustion if there’s a walk-in clinic or urgent care clinic near you. MANA Urgent care offers two convenient locations for urgent care in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
If left untreated, heat exhaustion can become heatstroke. Heat stroke is a potentially life-threatening heat illness that requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 and immediately cool the person has a fever over 103° F along with other symptoms of heat stroke:
- Dry skin
- Profuse sweating
- Skin is hot to the touch
- Rapid pulse
- Loss of consciousness