Heat Exhaustion

January 31, 2018 at 10:17 AM


Heat Exhaustion

When a person is exposed to warm, humid temperatures his or her internal body temperature begins to rise. Normally the body reacts by sweating, which evaporates and pulls heat out and away from the body.

Simply rehydrating someone suspected of being dehydrated due to physical exertion and sweating could prevent serious heat related problems from developing. Drinking a carbohydrate electrolyte drink such as sports drink works well to do this. Use water if a sports drink is not available. Coconut water and 2% milk have also shown to promote rehydration after exertion. Lemon tea based drinks and Chinese tea with caffeine have a comparable rehydration effect to water. 

Heat exhaustion can occur as a combined result of a rising internal temperature and dyhydration. Signs of heat exhaustion include the following:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Pale, cool, sweaty skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling weak

Although it may not appear serious treat heat exhaustion quickly. Without early recognition and treatment it could progress to heat stroke, a life threatening condition.

  • Have the person stop any activity and move them to a cooler place.
  • Loosen or remove excess clothing.
  • Have the person lie down. If the person is uninjured consider raising their legs 15 - 30 centimetres. Do not elevate if it causes pain or if the person is injured. 
  • Spray water on or apply cool, wet cloths to the head and torso. If available use a fan to increase cooling effect.
  • If the person is able to follow commands and swallow without trouble, encourage them to drink fluids, preferably a carbohydrate sports drink. Use water if a sports drink is not available.  Do not give anything to drink if the person is confused or has difficulty in swallowing ring 111 immediately.

In most cases the persons condition will gradually get better. If the person does not improve or seems to get worse ring 111 immediately. 

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are uncontrollable muscle spasms that can affect the calves, arms, abdominal muscles and back. They can be very painful.

Stretching and direct pressure to the cramping muscle may help. Delay further activity until the cramping has been resolved.

Learn more by attending a first aid course near you


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