Heat Exhaustion

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Last week, I discussed heat stroke and hope my readers learned safety tips to prevent injury during extreme heat wave. Most people confuse heat stroke with eat exhaustion, so I will establish the difference today in a few paragraphs.

CAUSES

The condition is due to heat exposure in combination with humidity and/or strenuous activity in high temperature. It is failure of the body to maintain core temperature i.e normal body temperature. The human body is often unable to regulate its temperature if physically over exerted. Therefore, the body looses its natural ability to cool down by producing less sweat. The condition can be alcohol induced or associated with dehydration. If the symptoms persist, it can lead to heat stroke which is a more severe heat related condition associated with prolonged heat exposure. Please read previous post to learn about heat stroke.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms can be sudden or progressive and include some of the following signs: sweating, rapid pulse, moist skin, faintness, dizziness, fatigue, hypotension, weakness, muscle cramps, nausea and headache.

RISK FACTORS

The following are risk factors:

Pediatric and geriatric population, immunocompromised individuals, obesity, heat sensitivity and individuals under certain medical treatment or prescribed drugs.

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MANAGEMENT or PRECAUTIONS

Seek medical assistance if symptoms are severe. Consult a medical provider before engaging in serious physical exercise. Avoid the heat, protect your skin from the heat, apply sun cream, stay hydrated, wear loose clothing and do not stay in hot car.

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Untreated heat exhaustion can rapidly progress to heat stroke which is considered to be a medical emergency. It is important to follow safety measures when exposed to the heat. You should avoid prolonged exposure to the heat and ensure you are well hydrated and medically cleared before engaging in physical activities in the heat. You can prevent organ damage related to untreated heat stroke if you follow the safety tips mentioned above.

Sophia Georges MSN, RN

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