Heat exhaustion

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Heat exhaustion is defined as overheating of the body. It is caused by the dysfunction of the cooling mechanism in the body in maintaining the normal core temperature.

What are the causes?

The usual cause of heat exhaustion is inability of the cooling mechanism in the body to maintain the normal core body temperature. This results to overheating of the body.

The condition can affect both adults and children as well as animals. Some of the factors that adds up to the condition include:

Heat exhaustion
The individual must be moved to a shaded area or in a cool area indoors while waiting for transport to a healthcare facility.
  • Engaging in strenuous or rigorous work or exercise in hot environments
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Dehydration
  • Using clothes that prevents evaporative cooling of the body

Young children below 5 years of age and elderly are at higher risk for developing the condition.

What are the indications?

An individual suspected with heat exhaustion might have some or all these signs:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Thirst
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Clammy skin
  • Dizziness and/or fainting

Generally, the individual has a raised body core temperature.

Management of heat exhaustion

The treatment for heat exhaustion must be started right away. The objective is to promote evaporative cooling and transferring the individual away from the warm environment.

  • The individual must be moved to a shaded area or in a cool area indoors while waiting for transport to a healthcare facility.
  • The individual should lie down with the legs raised above the level of the heart.
  • Loosen or remove any constricting clothes if it prevents evaporative cooling.
  • Promote cooling by misting or spraying the skin with cool water and allowing the air to circulate in the room with electric fans.
  • The individual should be given a cool beverage or other sports drinks.
  • Intravenous fluids might be given by a healthcare professional to manage dehydration.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on heat exhaustion is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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