Heat Exhaustion / Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion happens when your body becomes overheated and normally, your body would cool itself by sweating. The part of your brain, the hypothalamus, controls body temperature and maintains it within a fairly narrow range. When you are outside in very hot weather and don’t replace the fluids your body loses through sweating, the hypothalamus is overwhelmed and begins to produce more heat than the body can handle by sweating. Heat exhaustion is a form of dehydration caused by exposure to excessive heat for prolonged periods, or from drinking fluids that don’t contain enough sodium.
Heat stroke, which is a more serious form of heat exhaustion, can lead to a coma or even death if not treated. Heat stroke occurs when heat exhaustion is not treated.
If you have heat exhaustion, you may experience:
- excessive sweating
- nausea vomiting
- dizziness, weakness, fainting
- rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
- muscle cramping (heat cramps)
- pale, cool and clammy skin
- elevation in temperature (most often a mild rise)
- In heat stroke, the body temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and coma or seizure may follow. Heart attack and death may also occur. Heat stroke is an extremely serious condition
Who is Most at Risk?
- you have chronic respiratory disease
- you are obese or overweight
- you have hypertension (high blood pressure)
- you are pregnant
- you have chronic heart disease
- you are already dehydrated (i.e., have had vomiting or diarrhea, or have been unable to drink enough fluids)
- you are drinking beverages containing alcohol
- you are elderly
- you are working outdoors performing physical labor
- you are taking medications that may interfere with your body’s ability to cool itself (i.e., beta-blockers, tranquilizers, antihistamines)
How to Prevent Heat Stroke
- try to avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day whenever possible
- drink more fluids than normal and ensure that you are not drinking fluids that don’t contain any sodium at all
- check on elderly friends and neighbors and those who may be vulnerable to the heat
- avoid drinking alcohol if you must be out in the sun
- dress appropriately in cool clothing
- if exercising outdoors, drink 2 glasses of water prior to exercising and a glass of water every 20 to 30 minutes thereafter
- take cool baths if you are feeling overheated
- use fans indoors if you don’t have air conditioning
- remember never to leave anyone who is vulnerable (babies, the elderly, small children or disabled individuals) in vehicles in the heat
If you or another person are experiencing symptoms and do not feel better after 20 minutes, you should see a medical professional. If the person is semi-conscious or fully unconscious call an ambulance for immediate assistance.
Staying healthy all around in Randolph, NJ
Randolph, NJ has options for our patients to stay heart healthy as well as all around healthy with diet and exercise. Bike or hike across trails within Hedden County Park or take a walk through Hurd Park or Brundage-Sussex Park. Check out a healthy fare at Fitness Grill nearby and grab a veggie filled salad or smoothie.