Heat exhaustion occurs when the body gets overheated and there is excessive sweating. Too much of sweating gives rise to water and salt depletion. Heat exhaustion is one of the mildest forms of heat related illness; the other two are heat cramps and heat stroke. The obvious cause for heat exhaustion is exposure to extreme hot temperature for example in summer season. The other common cause for heat exhaustion is strenuous physical work.
Athletes, farmers, people working at construction sites are at a greater risk of suffering from heat exhaustion. Increased thirst, low urinary output and extreme weakness are three most common symptoms observed in heat exhaustion.
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms
Heat exhaustion symptoms can manifest promptly in some patients, while in some it can take more time to exhibit.
Patient complains of excessive thirst. There is low urine output and the urine is dark. Extreme prostration is another important symptom of heat exhaustion. The tongue and mouth become dry. It occurs as a result of excessive sweating. Skin becomes cool. The heart beats rapidly. Mental capacity and judgment gets dulled. Patient may experience cramps in calf muscles and also in other muscles.
Headache and fever are other contributory symptoms of heat exhaustion. Due to loss of sodium and other salt from perspiration, the patient may feel dizzy and there is loss of co-ordination of movement. Together with all the symptoms, patient has raised temperature.
First Aid Treatment For Heat Exhaustion
In order to administer first aid treatment, it is necessary to be aware of heat exhaustion symptoms. Once you definitely know the problem is related to heat exhaustion, follow the simple first aid steps:
- Shift the patient to cool environment. Air conditioned room is preferable.
- Make the patient lie down on the ground and raise his legs six inches above the ground level.
- Remove his shirt or at least make it loose by unbuttoning.
- The person should be made to consume water. It should be added with sugar and salt. A sports drink can be used as a substitute.
- Sponging the person’s body with cold water is necessary to bring down the temperature.
- Let there be free movement of air around the patient. Avoid overcrowding as this will obstruct free air movement.
- Keep a close watch of vital signs of the patient such as pulse and heart beat. If there is no improvement seen within 15 to 30 minutes you should immediately consult a doctor as there is a chance of deterioration of health.
Heat Exhaustion Prevention And Remedies
When you are aware that there is a chance of heat exhaustion you should follow these steps to prevent it:
- Wear clothes that are not too tight. They do not allow the air to move freely. It also holds the heat.
- Wear cotton clothes.
- Drink enough water as heat exhaustion causes lot of sweating and fluid loss from the body.
- Drink lemon juice which contains sugar and salt. You can also drink fruit juices or sports drink in order to prevent heat exhaustion in hot temperature.
- Avoid playing outdoors in sunlight and during hot and humid climate.
- Eat meals at a given time: Some portion of food is made up of water. It also increases the thirst.
- Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks. They increase urination. Also avoid alcohol as it also causes dehydration.