What is Heat Illness?
Heat illnesses occur when someone is exposed to extreme temperatures and the body is unable to cool itself off. There are several factors that can lead to heat illness:
- Exercise duration
- Fitness level
- Being overweight
- Heat rash
- Heat cramps
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat stroke
Signs of Heat Illness
The signs and symptoms of heat illness vary in severity, but can escalate very rapidly and quickly become life threatening.
Heat Rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating and is the least serious heat illness.
Heat Cramps are painful muscle spasms, usually in the calves or leg muscles, caused by depleted electrolytes from excessive sweating. Many athletes have experienced heat cramps at some point in their career and know how it can quickly limit their performance.
Heat Exhaustion is not life threatening, but can quickly escalate into heat stroke, which is deadly, if not treated.
- Excessive sweating
- Cold, pale, clammy skin
- Fast, weak pulse
- Nausea or vomiting
- Body temperature above 103 degrees (F)
- Hot, red, dry or moist skin
- Rapid and strong pulse
- Possible unconsciousness.
Heat Illness Prevention
The key to preventing heat illness is to educate yourself on the signs, and know how to respond accordingly. It is also important to understand that a mild heat illness can quickly become a life threatening situation.
If someone is exhibiting the signs of heat exhaustion, follow these steps.
- Move to a cooler location, in the shade or indoors.
- Lie down and loosen clothing.
- Apply cool, wet towels to your skin.
- Sip water
- If you have vomited and symptoms continue, seek medical attention.
- Call 911 immediately.
- Move to a cool, shaded location.
- Reduce the body temperature with cool, wet towels or a bath.
- DO NOT GIVE FLUIDS.
It is important to understand that if you are exercising outside in the heat, you can become dehydrated and develop a heat illness faster. Follow these steps when exercising outside in the heat.
- Exercise in the morning or late afternoon when the temperature is cooler.
- Pace your workout allowing for plenty of warm-up and cool down time.
- Wear loose, light clothing.
- Avoid eating heavy meals prior to exercising outside.
- Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercising outside.
- Monitor yourself for signs of heat illness. If you begin to develop signs of heat illness, seek medical attention.
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Brian C. Burnett, D.C., M.S.
Brian Burnett Chiropractic, PL
1108 Hays St. Tallahassee, FL