With the record setting heat wave that’s sweeping the Las Vegas Valley, the threat of heat exhaustion should definitely be a concern for anyone who has to be outside for an extended period of time. A serious heat related disorder, heat exhaustion can result from your body becoming overheated and dehydrated. Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include heavy sweating, fatigue, a weak, rapid pulse or fainting.
Heat exhaustion can cause a depletion of water in the body leading to extreme thirst, weakness, headache, and loss of consciousness. It can also lead to a sharp drop in the salt content of the body which can cause nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness.
Heat exhaustion is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures and can be especially dangerous when combined with strenuous physical activity and/or high humidity. If certain precautions are followed, heat exhaustion can be easily prevented. However, if left unchecked, the symptoms of heat exhaustion may develop into a life-threatening condition known as heat stroke which can cause brain damage, organ failure or even death.
Even though heat exhaustion isn’t as serious a threat as heat stroke, it should not be treated in a casual, haphazard manner. Without proper attention, the symptoms of heat exhaustion can quickly incapacitate an individual and progress to heat stroke.
If you feel you might be experiencing signs of heat exhaustion, immediately stop all activities and move out of the heat and into an air-conditioned room or a cool and shady place to rest. Make sure to drink plenty of cool water or sports drinks. Remove or loosen tight fitting clothing, take a cool shower or use fans or cold towels to help cool your body.
If your symptoms fail to improve or worsen within an hour, or if your body temperature reaches 104° F or higher, seek immediate medical attention.
The best way to avoid heat exhaustion is to stay indoors in air conditioning. If you must go outdoors, remember to apply a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a hat with a wide-brim to help prevent your body from becoming overheated.
To prevent dehydration, remember to drink plenty of fluids such as water, fruit juice or vegetable juice and an electrolyte-rich sport drink to prevent salt depletion. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol because they will cause your body to lose more fluids, which will worsen the symptoms of heat exhaustion.