How to prevent and treat heat exhaustion

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sun through corn field
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

If you work outside all day, or even if you enjoy outdoor summer activities, be aware of heat stroke and heat exhaustion symptoms.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke occurs when the body has overheated due to exposure and/or exertion in high temperatures, Mayo Clinic explains. Heat stroke can occur if your body temperature is 104 degrees F or higher.

Without immediate attention, heat stroke can cause damage to the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. If not taken care of as soon as possible, heat stroke can cause serious injury or death.

If you suspect that you or someone else is experiencing heat stroke, get emergency attention immediately. A medical professional will be able to lower the body temperature, and thus decrease the risk of organ damage.

Read about heat stroke symptoms and how you can prevent heat stroke from occurring here.

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion occurs when a person is exposed to high temperatures, high humidity and strenuous activity.

Mayo Clinic explains that heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion symptoms

Mayo Clinic lists the following as heat exhaustion symptoms:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cool, moist skin with goosebumps while exposed to heat
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Low blood pressure when standing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache
  • Nausea

Treating heat exhaustion

If you think that you or someone else may be experiencing heat exhaustion, stop whatever you’re doing to rest. Loosen clothing and remove any unnecessary clothing. Go to a cooler place and drink cool, hydrating fluids. Take a cool shower or cool bath, or soak towels in cool water and place them on your head.

If conditions don’t improve in an hour, contact a medical professional. If the body temperature rises to 104 degrees F, seek medical attention immediately, as heat stroke is likely occurring.

Preventing heat exhaustion

The following prevention tips are from Mayo Clinic and Extension:

  • Avoid tight-fitting, heavy and dark-colored clothing when outside in high temperatures. Stick to cool, loose and light-colored clothing instead.
  • Avoid getting sunburn. Apply sunscreen to exposed skin and wear protective layers.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking cool fluids. Drink 8 oz. of water every 15-30 minutes.
  • Avoid exercising outside in the heat.
  • Avoid use and consumption of drugs, alcohol, caffeine and sugar when you’re going to be outside in the heat. These substances will increase dehydration.
  • Seek a cooler spot. Move to a cooler location for 15 minutes every two hours.
  • Pay attention to the medications you take, as some may make your chances of developing heat exhaustion more likely.

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Katie Woods grew up in Columbiana, Ohio. Katie likes reading, writing, enjoying the outdoors and DIY projects.

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