Summer means fun and sun. Whether at the beach, on the trail, or in the backyard, this time of year we want to be outdoors as much as possible. But summer also means heat, and too much exposure to the heat can be dangerous. When exhaustion sets in, precautions should be taken.
Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion happens when the temperature is high and you lose more fluids than you take in. When you are unable to rehydrate yourself, heat exhaustion may cause you to feel nauseous, thirsty, dizzy, and weak. You may sweat profusely and have a rapid heartbeat and throbbing headache.
Heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke if lost fluids are not replaced and your body temperature rises unchecked. The symptoms for heatstroke include those listed for heat exhaustion, although they may last longer and be more pronounced. In addition, a heat stroke victim may be confused or agitated, perhaps staggering and falling to the ground. The pulse may be unusually rapid or slow, and the victim may not be unable to sweat. Severe heatstroke can lead to coma and even death.
Treating Heat Exhaustion and Stroke
For milder forms of heat exhaustion, the best cure is drinking a lot of fluids and getting rest until the symptoms pass. The victim should be taken to a cool indoor spot if available or at least into the shade. Cool water applied to the face might help with headaches or nausea.
If a person has the symptoms of heatstroke he or she should be taken for medical treatment as soon as possible. Intravenous hydration may be needed. If medical attention is not immediately available, bathe the person in cool water and provide him or her with nonalcoholic fluids.