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Stay Cool This Summer: Preventing Heat Exhaustion

Jun 28, 2017 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Summer is in full swing and so too are the soaring temperatures. People want to take advantage of what the summer weather has to offer and sometimes pay the price for doing so. Emergency departments across America are filling with people suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration. So how do you avoid this happening to you or a family member? First you need to know how heat exhaustion affects the body.

In hot weather, your body cools itself mainly by sweating. The evaporation of your sweat regulates your body temperature. However, when you exercise strenuously or otherwise overexert yourself in hot, humid weather, your body is less able to cool itself efficiently. Heat exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It’s one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe. Without prompt treatment, heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition. Fortunately, heat exhaustion is preventable. So what can you do to prevent heat exhaustion? For starters:

Stay hydrated

Drink often and regularly. Do not rely on thirst, by the time you are feeling thirsty, there is already a significant fluid deficit. Drink more than just water. When you exert yourself, you lose electrolytes as well as fluid. Sports drinks are proficient for adding electrolytes back into your system.

Monitor your urine, which should have a yellowish tint.

Stay cool

Work out in early morning or late evening. Avoid the hottest times of the day.Reduce the intensity and duration of your workout.

Take the time to get into shape and let your body adjust to the outside temperature slowly.

Take frequent rests and if available, do so in a shaded area.

Stay healthy

Maintain a well-balanced diet. Replenish salt and rehydrate. Avoid alcohol, soda, caffeine, and other stimulants.

Gain or lose weight slowly, allowing your body time to acclimate to the change.

Get plenty of sleep.

Know the warning signs of heat-related illness and dehydration syndromes.

Know what to look for

Any of the following can be a sign of heat exhaustion:

Confusion – cannot remember simple things, complete simple/routine tasks.

Irritability – a sudden change in temperament.

Belligerence – the person becomes easily frustrated, compounded by the confusion and irritability.


Fatigue – in excess of what would be anticipated.

Paradoxical chills – goose bumps and shivering in the face of high environmental temperature.

If you or someone else is exhibiting these symptoms stop whatever activity you are doing immediately and move inside to a cooler area. Try to drink fluids slowly and contact your healthcare provider. So beat the heat and enjoy a healthy summer.

“Stay Cool This Summer: Preventing Heat Exhaustion” provided by University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center.

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