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Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are sudden killers that can occur when exposed to excessive sun and heat.

Sun, Sea, And Sudden Killers To Avoid

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Stay Safe From Heat Exhaustion & Heatstroke!

For most of us, summer is upon us now. Which can be lovely… and also bring new, different health risks. Today we’re going to talk about heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

What’s the difference?

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heatstroke, but the former can turn into the latter very quickly if left untreated.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Cold sweats
  • Light-headedness

Symptoms of heatstroke include the above and also:

  • Red/flushed-looking skin
  • High body temperature (104ºF / 40ºC)
  • Disorientation/confusion
  • Accelerated heart rate

Click here for a handy downloadable infographic you can keep on your phone

What should we do about it?

In the case of heatstroke, call 911 or the equivalent emergency number for the country where you are.

Hopefully we can avoid it getting that far, though:

Prevention first

Here are some top tips to avoid heat exhaustion and thus also avoid heatstroke. Many are common sense, but it’s easy to forget things—especially in the moment, on a hot sunny day!

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
    • (Non-sugary) iced teas, fruit infusions, that sort of thing are more hydrating than water alone
    • Avoid alcohol
      • If you really want to imbibe, rehydrate between each alcoholic drink
  • Time your exercise with the heat in mind
    • In other words, make any exercise session early or late in the day, not during the hottest period
  • Use sunscreen
    • This isn’t just for skin health (though it is important for that); it will also help keep you cooler, as it blocks the UV rays that literally cook your cells
  • Keep your environment cool
    • Shade is good, air conditioning / cooling fans can help.
    • A wide-brimmed hat is portable shade just for you
  • Wear loose, breathable clothing
    • We write about health, not fashion, but: light breathable clothes that cover more of your body are generally better healthwise in this context, than minimal clothes that don’t, if you’re in the sun.
  • Be aware of any medications you’re taking that will increase your sensitivity to heat.
    • This includes medications that are dehydrating, and includes most anti-depressants, many anti-nausea medications, some anti-allergy medications, and more.
    • Check your labels/leaflets, look up your meds online, or ask your pharmacist.

Treatment

If prevention fails, treatment is next. Again, in the case of heatstroke, it’s time for an ambulance.

If symptoms are “only” of heat exhaustion and are more mild, then:

  • Move to a cooler location
  • Rehydrate again
  • Remove clothing that’s confining or too thick
    • What does confining mean? Clothing that’s tight and may interfere with the body’s ability to lose heat.
      • For example, you might want to lose your sports bra, but there is no need to lose a bikini, for instance.
  • Use ice packs or towels soaked in cold water, applied to your body, especially wear circulation is easiest to affect, e.g. forehead, wrists, back of neck, under the arms, or groin.
  • A cool bath or shower, or a dip in the pool may help cool you down, but only do this if there’s someone else around and you’re not too dizzy.
    • This isn’t a good moment to go in the sea, no matter how refreshing it would be. You do not want to avoid heatstroke by drowning instead.

If full recovery doesn’t occur within a couple of hours, seek medical help.

Stay safe and have fun!

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