Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a common condition which occurs during this time of year. Many of us have already experienced this condition during the past two weeks, not realizing what we have actually experienced. Heat exhaustion is not a life threatening condition because the core temperature of the body has risen little to none. Rest with the appropriate amounts of water will correct the condition.

In an earlier blog “Heat and Dehydration”, I spoke of the amount of water and fluid needed prior to, during, and after physical exercise or working and playing outside. Taking the proper precautions will keep heat exhaustion from occurring. Just in case you have or know someone who has experienced symptoms of fatigue, exhaustion, nausea, lightheadedness, and or heat cramps after prolonged periods of being in the sun and heat recently whether working in the yard, playing ball, boating,gardening, etc, I will share what you can do to improve the condition.

What has happened to cause these symptoms is the body has not only lost sufficient amounts of fluids but the body has also depleted its sodium and chloride ions.

Rather than wait on the body to get enough rest and fluids, you can treat your condition immediately and more rapidly by partaking “sipping” of this liquid toddy over the course of one hour. The liquid toddy should consist of 1 teaspoon of salt (sodium Chloride) dissolved in a liter of water (quart). Add to this water one tablespoon of sugar or a sweet drink powder (this needs to contain sugar not artificial sweetener). This toddy works best if it is cold and again, consumed slowly within an hour.

Do not substitute salt tablets for this toddy because the salt tablets are too concentrated and will draw the water into the stomach and not into the circulatory system where it is needed to maintain the body’s normal core temperature.

Drinking slightly salty water, massaging heat cramps, and resting will help the cramps that may accompany this fatigue state.

As I mentioned in my earlier blog “Heat and Dehydration”, drinking water and/or gatorade as well as eating salty snacks will give you the electrolytes needed to avoid dehydration. Also be sure to drink because you are suppose to drink, note the frequency in my earlier blog, do not wait until you feel thirsty, by then it’s too late; you are already dehydrated. Take a break during the middle afternoon which is the hottest part of the day.

I have friend who mows for about 6 hours a day once a week. It would be better for her to mow from 9-12 two mornings of the week or to mow three hours in the morning until noon and then again from 5-8pm than to do it in one straight time frame. Why? Heat exhaustion.

Wearing light colored cotton clothing and a wide brimmed hat will also protect your body. You only have one body. Don’t let your body down by abusing it needlessly. Spread your activities out throughout the day and drink plenty of fluids with electrolytes-remember caffeine contributes to dehydration.

If you do experience heat exhaustion remember the toddy above and if anyone you know experiences a heat stroke take them to the nearest medical facility immediately and as fast as you can because a heat stroke is life threatening. Death can occur in about 30 minutes.

In a heat stroke, the core body temperature rises to dangerous levels, the skin can become red and hot, the individual can become disoriented, argumentative, combative or hallucinate. While in route to a medical facility quickly, if possible, remove cotton clothing, soak the person with water, fanning them in order to increase the rate of evaporation and massaging the extremities to help the cool blood return. When available, ice packs could be placed in the following areas and in this correct order – at the neck, armpits, and groin areas. Cooling an individual as instructed in route to a medical facility is the best way to begin the hydration process. The individual in an impaired mental state often will not drink and it is best not to force the fluids. By cooling the body externally it is possible the person will recover enough to begin to drink by mouth. As stated earlier, getting this person to the hospital is crucial while doing any or all of the above because a person in this condition could die in about 30 minutes.

Enjoy the sun and outdoor activities this summer! As you do, take care of yourself and your friends. There is no fun in enjoying the moment or afternoon to find yourself or your friend stuck inside and unable to enjoy the next week or two. We have one life and one body, let’s treat it well especially in the heat.

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