Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke:The Warning Signs

heat exhaustion and heat stroke

In days when there are unfavorable climatic changes, places on the globe which are naturally cool are now extremely hot and vice – versa. You get confused on when to take an umbrella and when it’s not necessary. And we can do without working under the sun, drive under the sun or some countries have power failure.

It’s important to understand that no one is immune to heat exhaustion, not even the most finely conditioned athlete. That’s because the hotter we get the more we perspire and if we sweat too much we start to run low of water.

Etiology of heat emergency

Heat emergency basically occur due to high temperature and humidity.it is endogenously caused by less salt in the body system. This salt; called sodium chloride (NaCl) is responsible for hot and cold balance in the body system specifically the cells and membranes of various organs, It’s also interesting to tell you that extreme heat leads to heat cramps which further graduates to heat exhaustion and stroke.

Extreme heat à Heat crampsà Heat exhaustionà Heat stroke

You are likely to feel the effect of heat if;

  • You are not used to high temperature or high humidity.
  • You are obese.
  • You drink alcohol before or during exposure to heat or high humidity.
  • Not drinking enough fluid when you’re active on warmer or hot days.
  • You have a heart disease.
  • When you take some certain medications like beta blockers, water pills or diuretics, antidepressants, antipsychotics or ADHD.
  • Sweat gland problems.
  • Wearing too many clothing.

Heat cramps

This occur when you work hard and sweat so much, cramps develops in the stomach, arm and legs .

Heat exhaustion

At the stage the person feels pale, weak and perhaps feels faint. The skin is cool and moist; increased pulse but the body temperature could be normal.

Heat stroke

At this stage the body temperature is at 105F or higher. Signs include CNS complications and it develops when a lot of time is spent under heat. The skin becomes very hot, dizziness and fainting, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, mental confusion, seizures, and severe headaches.

How to prevent heat exhaustion

  • Avoid wearing tick and tight clothing.
  • Wear light coloured clothes because they reflect heat while black colour absorbs heat.
  • Always take enough water.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetable. They have a high water content and good salt balance.
  • Ensure where you stay or work is ventilated.
  • Settle down and avoid going from one place to another except if inevitable.

Treatment and Precautions

At a particular episode of exhaustion, the following should be done;

  1. Increase ventilation.
  2. Take enough water.
  3. Don’t give a medication for fever (such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin).
  4. Give oral rehydration salt or mix a spoonful of table salt with water.
  5. If table salt is not available, you can take a spoonful of antacids.
  6. In the case of vomiting don’t give anything by mouth, just pour water on the head and face before transferring to the hospital.
  7. Never use alcohol or caffeine.

Keep to this precautionary measures and you will thank me later.



  1. activebeat.com; Signs and symptoms of heat stroke Emily Lockhart
  1. rightdiagnosis.com; Heat cramps
  1. When there is no doctor; David Werner, Jane Maxwell, Carol Thuman.
  1. The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies; Heat Exhaustion,Debora Tkac

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