Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

It’s hot…Still. And we’re all still going about our lives, getting back to school or work and the sun is still attempting to burn us all. It’s important to keep cool because both the sun and the humidity play large roles in heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion. You’re outside hanging out, playing hard if you’re a kid, and suddenly, you feel dizzy. You get that awful feeling where you’re disconnected from everything and you might pass out or vomit. You’re extremely tired and maybe have a headache. These symptoms relate to heat exhaustion. The affected person may simply collapse. Their body temperature will be between 37-40 degrees Celsius and they’re covered in sweat. Basically, heat exhaustion is the body becoming weak from overworking and being unable to cool itself enough.

Managing heat exhaustion. Don’t panic though. Heat exhaustion is a relatively minor illness and goes away pretty quickly. Move the affected person out of the sun or get them some shade. Also try to get them to lay down. Give them cool drinks and try to help cool them down with a damp cloth or remove any extra layers of clothing. Get medical help if you do end up throwing up, symptoms get worse, or they last longer than 1 hour.

Heat stroke. Let’s say your head cleared up a little. You still feel kind of icky but you keep doing yard work or playing games outside with no break or drink. Basically, you failed to do anything to actually make yourself feel better. Now you’re at risk for developing heat stroke which is worse than heat exhaustion and requires immediate medical attention. The victim will have a fever over 40 degrees Celsius and will breathe shallow and quickly. The sick, dizzy feeling will continue and they may be confused and have muscle cramps. They will also be unable to sweat, having either expelled all liquids from previous sweating or failing to drink enough water beforehand, leaving their skin dry.

Managing heat exhaustion. Call 000 for an ambulance immediately. Then move the victim to a cooler place and follow DRSABCD. You need to do something, almost anything, to cool this person down, but do not put ice directly on the skin or give them anything to drink. More than likely, they will be unable to drink properly and then you will probably have a worse situation. Get their skin wet with damp cloths and place icepacks at the places people tend to sweat the most: neck, armpits, and groin.

As usual, I can tell you how to manage or act when one of these things happens, but the best course of action is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Don’t wear heavy clothing, try to do outside stuff before 10 am or after 4 pm, and drink a lot of water!

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