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Causes and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Causes and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

a blog by My Emergency Room Abilene

Causes and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

When summer hits and the heat starts to rise, there are a few dangers that can come with it. One of them being heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a serious condition that can occur when your body overheats and doesn’t have enough fluids or an adequate way to release sweat. The combination of hot weather and physical activity can lead to heat exhaustion, which is why it’s important to take precautions before you step outside in the beating sun.

If you are exercising in high heat or humidity, taking measures to prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion is even more important. Read on for information about the causes and symptoms of heat exhaustion so you can keep yourself safe from this dangerous condition.

What is Heat Exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion is a disorder where the body’s temperature regulation system is overwhelmed by excessive heat and humidity. In most cases, overexertion in a hot and humid environment will cause this condition. It can also be brought on by a medical condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease.

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body can’t cool itself properly. The main cause of this is not enough fluids in the body, which is why it is also called dehydration heat exhaustion. This condition can progress to heatstroke, a more serious and sometimes fatal condition. Heat exhaustion usually happens when the outside temperature is hot, but there is little or no wind. This is because the body can’t release heat through the skin as easily when it’s hot and muggy.

Humidity can also lead to increased transpiration and sweating, which is how the body regulates temperature. When humidity is high, sweat doesn’t evaporate as quickly as it would in a dryer climate. This means it is harder for the body to get rid of excess heat.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion causes the body’s core temperature to rise, which can lead to a condition called hyperthermia. Hyperthermia can lead to heatstroke if it’s not treated. Heat exhaustion can occur whenever the core body temperature rises above 102°F. It can happen suddenly, or it may develop slowly over time. The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

Heavy sweating - Sweating is the body’s way to regulate temperature. It is triggered by an increase in the hormone called cortisol, which is released by the adrenal glands. Excessive sweating can be a sign of heat exhaustion. This happens when the body releases too much cortisol, causing blood vessels to dilate and triggering the production of extra sweat.

Feeling tired and weak - Feeling tired and weak is another symptom of heat exhaustion. This happens when the body’s core temperature rises above 104°F. When overheated, the cells in the body need more oxygen and energy to function properly.

Headaches - Heat exhaustion can also cause headaches, which are often triggered by increased blood flow to the brain, which is needed to regulate the central nervous system in the event of an emergency. -

Dizziness - Dizziness is another symptom of heat exhaustion. This happens when the body’s normal blood flow is disrupted, due to an increase in core temperature.

Causes of Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion can happen when you engage in strenuous outdoor activities in a hot and humid climate. Risk factors that can increase your chances of developing heat exhaustion include dehydration, a lack of electrolytes, lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of acclimatization, lack of fitness, and wearing heavy clothing.

Dehydration - One of the most common causes of heat exhaustion is dehydration. When you sweat, your body loses water and electrolytes. If you don’t replace these nutrients, you are likely to become dehydrated. When you are dehydrated, your body can’t cool down properly, which can lead to heat exhaustion.

Electrolyte imbalance - Another cause of heat exhaustion is an electrolyte imbalance. An electrolyte is a mineral that is dissolved in your blood or bodily tissues. They help maintain your muscles, nerves, and heart function. When your core temperature rises, cortisol is triggered and your body releases extra electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, and magnesium. If you don’t replace these minerals, you are at risk of developing heat exhaustion.

Lack of sleep - A lack of sleep can make you more susceptible to heat exhaustion. Sleep helps your body recover from strenuous activities and manage stress. If you don’t get enough sleep, your cortisol levels remain elevated, making it harder for your body to regulate temperature.

Poor diet - Eating a poor diet can also increase your risk of heat exhaustion. This happens when you don’t consume enough electrolytes and water. While water is essential for hydration, it also has other important roles in the body. It transports nutrients throughout the body, regulates blood pressure, and helps remove waste.

Late-stage acclimatization - If you don’t acclimatize properly to a new climate, you are at greater risk of heat exhaustion. Early-stage acclimatization refers to the way your body responds to heat and humidity when you first arrive in a new environment.

Lack of fitness - If you aren’t fit, you are more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion, especially if you don’t acclimatize.

Wearing heavy clothing - Wearing heavy clothing can make it harder for your body to regulate temperature. This is especially true in a hot and humid climate where sweat doesn't evaporate quickly.

How to Treat Heat Exhaustion
The best way to treat heat exhaustion is to prevent it from happening in the first place. If you experience any of the early warning signs, such as heavy sweating, fatigue, or dizziness, seek shelter and rest. Drink water and electrolyte-rich beverages to prevent dehydration. If you have more severe symptoms of heat exhaustion, such as confusion or fainting, seek immediate medical attention. The doctor may prescribe fluids intravenously. If you suspect someone else is suffering from heat exhaustion, try to get them to rest in a cool and shady location. Give them plenty of water and electrolyte-rich beverages, such as a sports drink. If they are unconscious, call 9-1-1.

Prevention Tips for Heat Exhaustion
The best way to prevent heat exhaustion is to acclimatize to the climate and do proper hydration before, during, and after strenuous activity. When you travel to a different climate, your body needs time to adjust. This is called acclimatization, and it helps your body adjust to the new climate. When you are acclimatized to a new climate, you are less likely to experience heat exhaustion. Properly hydrate before, during, and after activity.

It is important to stay hydrated, especially in hot and humid climates. Drink plenty of water before strenuous activity, during the activity, and after the activity. Avoid sugary drinks and sports drinks that contain caffeine. Wearing light and loose-fitting clothing can also protect you from the heat.

This is especially important during the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun is at its strongest. When the temperature rises, it’s important to avoid direct sunlight. This includes midday sun, which is most intense between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Eating a healthy diet can help you stay hydrated, maintain electrolyte balance, and prevent heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion is a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated. The best way to avoid heat exhaustion is to acclimatize to a new climate and drink plenty of water before, during, and after activity.

Stay hydrated, wear loose-fitting clothing, and stay out of the sun to prevent heat exhaustion. If you experience any of the symptoms of heat exhaustion, get yourself indoors and drink water to prevent dehydration.