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Heat exhaustion happens when your body is exposed to too much heat. The hypothalamus is the portion of the brain that controls your ability to recognize hunger, thirst and body temperature regulation. The body cools itself via radiation from the skin and by evaporation of the sweat on the skin. Exposure to external heat along with a lack of replenishing the fluids with water or oral electrolyte rehydration solution is the main cause of heat exhaustion. Your body heats up and, when sweating stops, it can turn into heat stroke, a more severe condition from heat exhaustion.

The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include sweating heavily, having a headache, having fatigue, having pale and clammy skin, being thirsty, having palpitations, being dizzy or fainting, having nausea and vomiting as well as cramping of the abdominal muscles and other muscles. The temperature is mildly elevated. Body temperatures above 104, however, are indicative of heat stroke instead of heat exhaustion.

Heat stroke is caused by exposure to high temperatures, resulting in dehydration due to not drinking enough liquids. It can also occur when sweat gets rid of electrolytes and aren't replaced in the fluids you drink.

People at risk for heat exhaustion are those who are dehydrated, under the age of five, elderly persons, those with disabilities, those who are obese or pregnant, those who have cardiovascular disease, those with hypertension, respiratory disease or alcoholism. If you exert yourself physically outdoors, such as those who are athletes, road workers or military personnel, you can be at increased risk of heat exhaustion. Certain medications, like tranquilizers, antipsychotics, tricyclic antidepressants and beta blockers make you unable to sweat readily and you get hot easily.

You should see a doctor or go to the emergency room any time you have symptoms of heat exhaustion. The doctor will do a physical exam and will check your pulse and respiratory rate. Your temperature will be measured and the doctor will attempt to bring your temperature down. Sometimes blood work and urine samples can be checked.

You can prevent heat exhaustion by drinking plenty of fluids, before, during and following the activity you are doing outdoors in the heat. If it is very hot and you can stay in air conditioned places, do so as much as possible. Always drink fluids that replace your electrolytes, such as Gatorade or PowerAde. Make sure vulnerable people are checked on during heat spells and do not drink alcohol during hot periods of time. Try to exercise when the weather has cooled and take cool baths to prevent heat exhaustion. Make sure your clothing is loose and lightweight.

The treatment of heat exhaustion involves resting in a cool place and drinking cool but not icy fluids. Water can turn around heat exhaustion as can sports drinks. You can spray yourself with water and can fan yourself to reduce your body temperature. In severe cases, you may need IV fluids in the form of saline solution.

Doctors want you to take care of dehydration by replacing Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium through drinking sports drinks or taking the supplements in pill or capsule form. Foods you can take that are high in these substances include nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, sea vegetables, bananas and blackstrap molasses.

Herbal remedies that are used to reduce temperature and treat heat exhaustion. These include Chinese skullcap, willow bark, Elder flower, Yarrow and cayenne pepper. As they take a while to turn around heat exhaustion, you need to keep drinking while using the various herbs to have a more long lasting effect.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our personal injury solicitors operate a specialist medical negligence compensation service. Our Heat Exhaustion solicitors deal with claims using a no win no fee arrangement which means that if you don�t win then you don�t pay them their professional costs. If you would like legal advice at no cost with no further obligation just complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices or use the helpline and a Heat Exhaustion solicitor will review your medical negligence compensation claim and phone you immediately.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here