Don’t let heat exhaustion spoil your fun

June 9, 2015 Providence Health Team

Too much time in the sun can cause heat exhaustion. Learn the symptoms and what to do if you do get heat exhaustion.

At some point in our lives, we’ve all spent too much time in the sun. We hang out all day at an outdoor concert, spend hours working in the garden or just can’t get enough beach time.

We’re hot and sweaty. Fairly typical. What’s not normal is developing a cracking headache and feeling confused. These could be signs that you’ve overdone it and your fun has turned into heat exhaustion.

While not as serious as heat stroke, where a victim can suffer vital organ shutdown, heat exhaustion isn’t a situation you should ignore.

Heat exhaustion often builds gradually over a few days after you’ve been in the sweltering sun for hours at a stretch.

Be cautious and know the symptoms of heat exhaustion.

The warning signs

You might be suffering from heat exhaustion if you:

  • Feel fatigued
  • Become dizzy
  • Have a headache that won’t go away
  • Are perspiring heavily
  • Feel confused and can’t think clearly
  • Get muscle cramps
  • Have a rapid heartbeat
  • Faint

Dehydration is the main contributor to heat exhaustion, either from a lack of water or a significant loss of salt in your system. If you do get heat exhaustion, move to the shade or an air-conditioned room and drink lots of water.

If you have to be outside during extreme weather, understand your body’s tolerance levels and take these precautions:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can contribute to dehydration.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a hat.
  • If possible, limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Rest often in shady areas.
  • If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.

Fun in the sun is what we crave after a cold winter. So get out and enjoy the great weather. By using common sense and planning, you’ll limit the chances of heat exhaustion.

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