Historically, July and August are the hottest months of the year. While the summer heat is perfect for ice cream and beach trips, there are serious hazards that can come from staying in the scorching sun for too long.
Heat exhaustion is a common occurrence during the summer months. It’s important to protect yourself by knowing what symptoms to look for and how to prevent it.
Causes of Heat Exhaustion
When in a hot environment, your body regulates its internal temperature by sweating. The evaporation of this sweat cools the body’s temperature. However, this cooling mechanism doesn’t always work efficiently, especially in humid climates.
If the body becomes too warm, you can develop heat cramps. This is a mild, though uncomfortable, form of heat-related illness that can easily be treated by drinking more water. Without the cooling effects of water or other fluids, however, these symptoms can escalate to more serious heat-related illnesses.
Dehydration, alcohol use and over-dressing can contribute to heat exhaustion. Without enough fluids, your body cannot produce enough sweat. If you have alcohol in your system, your body cannot regulate temperature as precisely. Wearing the wrong clothes can also trap sweat and increase body temperature.
Other factors like age, medication, and obesity can also put certain people at higher risk. Children younger than four and adults over 65 are at higher risk of heat exhaustion. Certain medications may also affect your body’s ability to remain hydrated, so make sure you research your medications’ side effects. Also, excess body weight can inhibit your body’s ability to regulate temperature and cause you to retain more heat.
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms
Symptoms of heat exhaustion may develop quickly or over time, depending on how efficiently your body is able to regulate its own temperature. It’s especially important to be vigilant when out in the sun or exercising.
Signs of heat exhaustion can include:
- Muscle cramps
- Fast pulse
- Clammy skin or goose bumps
- Heavy sweating
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, stop your activity and rest. If you can, move to the shade or indoors and drink cool water.
Immediately seek medical attention if your body temperature reaches 101 degrees or higher.
How to Avoid Heat Exhaustion
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.This will allow heat to escape and sweat to evaporate so that your body can properly cool itself.
- Protect your skin. Wear a light, wide brimmed hat or use an umbrella to protect your skin from the sun. Also apply sunscreen to exposed skin. A sunburn inhibits the body’s ability to rid itself of heat.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated helps your body sweat and maintain a cool body temperature. Drink more water and limit your use of alcohol. Too much alcohol can inhibit your ability to regulate body temperature.
- Be aware of your symptoms.It’s important to listen to your body. If you start to have any signs of heat exhaustion, take the necessary steps to cool down in order to prevent any escalation to more serious heat-related illnesses.
Are your summer workouts leaving you with aches and pains? Schedule an appointment with Airrosti. Our providers are experts at diagnosing and treating soft tissue injuries, often resolving the source of pain within 3 visits (based on patient-reported outcomes). We’ll also provide you with the tools and resources you need to stay pain-free and prevent future injuries.
If you prefer to avoid traveling the summer heat, consider scheduling a remote telehealth appointment. With telehealth, we can deliver our expertise directly to you from the comfort of your home.
Give us a call at 800-404-6050 to learn more.
Read our Medical Disclaimer here.