Are You Suffering from Heat Exhaustion? Here Are the Signs
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Summer is hands down my favorite season: fresh fruits and vegetables, ice cream, cocktails loaded with ice and just the careless feeling it evokes (even during a pandemic!). However, it all comes with a cost: heat.
It’s that kind of heat that simply takes your breath away and no matter what you do, you just can’t cool down. Depending on the area where you live, you probably know what I’m talking about.
Surprisingly enough, there’s a medical term for this situation: heat exhaustion. Below, you can have a look at what heat exhaustion is, the main signs and when you should seek help from a professional.
What is heat exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion is a medical condition that appears when your body’s cooling mechanisms are no longer able to regulate your internal temperature, Mayo Clinic says.
Your normal body temperature is somewhere around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. When it’s cold outside, internal mechanisms work to heat you up and vice versa. However, if you are exposed to extreme heat for longer periods of time, your body can heat up way faster than it can cool down. After a certain point, internal mechanisms simply fail to bring your body temperature back to normal; that’s when heat exhaustion happens.
Our most important cooling mechanism is sweating. However, excessive sweating can cause dehydration, which again leaves your body fatigued and unable to fight off the heat.
What are the signs?
Of course, most of the times we’re just really hot. It’s uncomfortable and it may make you thirsty, but your body still can regulate itself with a little help on your part. Here are the main signs:
- Heavy sweating
- Muscle cramps
If you experience any of the signs above, it’s time to stop whatever you’re doing, hydrate yourself and go to a cooler place if possible. Unless you take precaution measures, you may end up suffering from heat exhaustion; here are the symptoms:
- Cool skin with goosebumps (although it’s hot outside)
- Pale skin
- Weak pulse
- Nausea and/or vomiting
By this point, your body is no longer able to cool down by itself. Unless you’re lost on a deserted island, it’s time to go somewhere inside, hydrate yourself and lay down until you’re starting to feel better again. If you still don’t take action to cool down, you may experience one of the following symptoms as well:
- Flushed skin
- Confusion, trouble speaking or hallucination
- Internal temperature of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit
ATTENTION! These symptoms can signal a heartstroke, which is life-threatening. If you end up in such condition, seek medical assistance immediately and take all measures possible to cool down.
Prevention is always easier than treatment. With that in mind, here are the main things you can do daily to avoid heat exhaustion:
- Always check the weather before going out;
- Always carry a bottle of water with you;
- Wear light clothes and a hat if you must go into the sunlight;
- Take plenty of breaks to cool down;
- If the weather is too hot, do not go outside (or go home).