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The Truth About Heat Exhaustion

By Virginia Laird

July and August are known to be the hottest months of the summer. Preparing to live through the sweltering heat is one of the best ways to survive with minimal issues. Heat-related illnesses are among the top reasons for emergency room visits during the summer months, according to research. Heat exhaustion can be just as serious as heat stroke. A few things to consider when arming yourself with knowledge for prevention include:

  • What is heat exhaustion
  • When can heat exhaustion take place
  • What are the symptoms
  • How can it be treated

What is Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness brought on by the overexposure to high temperatures and is accelerated by dehydration. There are two types of heat exhaustion, dehydration and lack of salt.

  • Dehydration - Lack or loss of fluid that can happen through sweating or consuming too little to maintain the appropriate level in the body

  • Lack of salt - The body needs sodium for the muscles to function and avoid cramps

When Can Heat Exhaustion Take Place

It is important to know that, although heat exhaustion generally takes place while outdoors, it can happen indoors. Anytime a person is exposed to high temperatures or high humidity for long periods of time, heat exhaustion can take place.

What are the Symptoms

Although heat exhaustion is not as serious as heat stroke, it should still be taken very seriously. Common signs that a person may be experiencing heat exhaustion include:

  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle cramps

How Can It Be Treated

While it may not be necessary to call for an ambulance, immediate action is essential. The victim should get out of the heat and off his or her feet. When this is not possible, he or she should find shade, or others should make shade. Cool water should be sipped. Unnecessary layers of clothing should be removed and cool cloths should be applied to help cool the skin. It is important to follow up with your PCP after experiencing heat exhaustion.

Staying hydrated is a key factor in preventing heat exhaustion. No matter what outdoor activity or vacation you may have planned, plan to have a water bottle handy at all times! Stay safe and have fun on your outdoor adventures!

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Georgetown, Tex.

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