Most of the country is experiencing very high temperatures right now.  Many areas of the US are not used to such extreme heat. Since it’s summer vacation time, you and your family could be exposed to both heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is less severe than heat stroke.

What is Heat Exhaustion?

It’s a condition brought on by exposure to high temperatures. Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It’s often accompanied by dehydration. Infants and children up to the age of four are most at risk. Next are the elderly and anyone with a serious health condition.

There are two types of heat exhaustion:

  • Water depletion. Signs include excessive thirst, weakness, headache, and loss of consciousness.
  • Salt depletion. Signs include nausea. vomiting, cramps, and dizziness.

Either form can produce  a headache, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, flushed skin or redness, nausea, excessive sweating, and dizziness.

If you notice any of these symptoms, get that person out of the heat and into a cooler, preferably air-conditioned space.  Drink plenty of fluids – not caffeine or alcohol. Look for drinks that will add electrolytes.  Coconut water is an excellent natural rehydration drink. A juice made from cilantro and mint is an age-old remedy for heat exhaustion. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water or fruit juice can also help balance electrolytes.

Take a cooling shower or bath and remove any tight or hot clothing.  You can also use icepacks to cool the body down. If the skin is already sunburnt, add some apple cider vinegar to the bath water.

How to Prevent Heat Exhaustion

When the heat index is above 90 it’s best to stay indoors.  If you do go out, follow these guidelines:

Wear loose light clothing and a hat.  Apply SPF 30 sunscreen. Drink extra fluids but choose ones that will help combat heat exhaustion.  Pick drinks with electrolytes. You can also take cell salts to keep your salt and potassium levels optimum.

What is Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke is serious. It’s considered a medical emergency.

It occurs when heat exhaustion is not handled. It’s most usual to see it when there has been prolonged exposure to high temperatures — usually in combination with dehydration. That causes the body’s temperature control system to fail.  And this can happen quite quickly.

The body’s temperature rises rapidly, you stop sweating and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106°F or higher in as little as 10 minutes. Fainting may be the first sign of heat stroke. You can put the person in a cool place and try to cool the body down while you wait for emergency help.  Do not use ice on the elderly or very young patients.

The best way to avoid these summer heat issues is to follow the advice on not overheating your body when the temperatures soar.

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