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Heat exhaustion

Definition


Disease: Heat exhaustion Heat exhaustion
Category: Other Diseases
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Disease Definition:

The symptoms of heat exhaustion may include a rapid pulse and heavy sweating due to overheating of the body. It is one of the three heat-related syndromes, with heatstroke being the most severe, and heat cramps being the mildest.

Exposure to high temperatures, especially when combined with high humidity and strenuous physical activity are some of the causes of heat exhaustion.

Work Group:


Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes

Symptoms:

The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion may resemble those of being in shock, and come on suddenly. The affected person's skin could appear flushed, and feel hot and moist. Some of the other possible symptoms of heat exhaustion may include:
-    Nausea
-    Faintness
-    Headache
-    Heavy sweating
-    Dark urine
-    Low blood pressure
-    Low-grade fever
-    Weak, rapid pulse

Causes:

A person's core temperature, which is the body's internal temperature, is their body's heat combined with environmental heat. In order to maintain a core temperature that is normal, which is approximately 37 C (98.6 F), the body needs to regulate the heat gain, and in cold weather, heat loss, from the environment.

Impaired cooling mechanism
The body cools itself mainly by sweating in hot weather. The body temperature is regulated by the evaporation of the sweat. However, the body is less able to cool itself efficiently when a person exercises strenuously or otherwise overexerts in hot and humid weather.

This could cause the body to develop the mildest form of heat-related illness, which is heat cramps. Heavy sweating, muscle cramps, fatigue and thirst are some of the common signs and symptoms of heat cramps. To prevent heat cramps from progressing to heat exhaustion, it has to be treated promptly.

Drinking fluids that contain electrolytes, such as Gatorade or other sports drinks; getting into cooler temperatures, such as an air-conditioned or shaded place and resting, could usually treat heat cramps.

Other causes
In addition to hot weather and strenuous activity, some of the other causes of heat exhaustion may include:

Alcohol use:
This could affect the body's ability to regulate its temperature.

Dehydration:
This impedes the body's ability to sweat as well as maintain a normal temperature.

Overdressing:
Especially in clothes that don't allow sweat to easily evaporate.

Complications

Complications:

When heat exhaustion is left untreated, it could progress to heatstroke, which is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the temperature of the body reaches 40 C (104 F) or higher. To prevent permanent damage to the brain and other vital organs or death, heatstroke requires immediate medical attention.

Treatments:

Heat exhaustion could mostly be treated by:

Resting in a cool place:
A person should find a shady spot, but getting into an air-conditioned building is better. They should elevate their legs higher than their heart level while resting on their back.

Drinking cool fluids:
A person should drink sports drinks or water. Because alcohol and caffeine contribute to fluid loss, they should be avoided.

Applying cool water to the skin:
Alcohol shouldn't be used on the skin. A person can either take a cool shower or soak in a cool bath if possible.

Loosening the clothes:
A person should make sure that their clothes aren't binding and remove any unnecessary clothing.

Someone should seek prompt medical attention in case they don't start feeling better within a half-hour while using these treatment measures. To help them rehydrate, someone may be given intravenous fluids. Some of the techniques that may be used to bring down the body temperature include placing the person in front of fans, misting their skin or using cold or ice packs and cooling blankets.

Prognosis:

Not available

Expert's opinion

Expert's Name:
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Expert's opinion:

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