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How to avoid Heat Exhaustion

Avoid the burn of heat exhaustion this summer

It’s normal to feel warm when you’re out in the summer heat. But sometimes it becomes too much for your body to handle, which can lead to a dangerous health condition called heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion is what doctors call it when your body temperature rises too high and your body’s natural cooling system, which regulates your temperature by sweating, just isn’t enough to get it under control.

This can happen if you’re exercising in the heat and you don’t drink enough fluids. You may be more prone to this dangerous overheating if you’re overweight, pregnant, are drinking alcohol or have certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Certain medications can also make it more likely that you will overheat.

Know the warning signs and symptoms

If you’re outside in the heat and start to notice that your skin suddenly feels cold and clammy, you feel faint, you’re sweating excessively, or you have a headache or feel nauseous, you might be experiencing heat exhaustion. If you ignore your symptoms and continue activity, heat exhaustion can progress to a potentially deadly condition called heat stroke, where your body temperature soars into the danger zone of 104 degrees or higher. Untreated, this condition can have serious health consequences.

So, if you’re outside and start to feel any of the symptoms above, take it as a signal to stop what you’re doing and take some immediate steps to cool down. Below are strategies that you can use to get your body temperature back to normal.

How to reverse the burn:

  • Get out of the sun. Ideally, it’s a good idea to head inside and take a cool shower to lower your body temperature. But if you can’t do that, at least get to a cooler spot, whether it’s inside or a spot in the shade where you can rest.
  • Drink up. Cool liquids such as water or sports drinks containing natural juices can help refresh and cool your body. But while it may be tempting to grab a cold beer, don’t. Alcohol can actually make heat exhaustion worse.
  • Lie down. To cool your body take off any tight or restrictive clothing and lie down with your feet elevated.
  • Know when to get help. If you’ve done all the steps above and you still don’t feel better within an hour or so, it’s time to get medical attention. Head to the hospital where doctors can treat your condition.

Prevention is better than a cure

Perhaps the best way to treat heat exhaustion is to head it off by using some sun-smart strategies when the mercury rises. If you’re heading outside, make sure you wear clothing that is cool, loose-fitting and breathable to avoid overheating.

Drink it in. Keep your body hydrated by drinking water if you’re out in the heat. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least two cups of water about a half an hour before you begin an outdoor workout and then be sure to take in another cup every 20 minutes or so after that. Again, skip the alcohol, which can raise your risk of overheating. And finally, try to time your outdoor activities for the cooler parts of the day. This means skipping that lunchtime workout in the blazing sun.

With the proper prevention and know-how you can ensure that your outdoor activities are safe this season.