Friday, June 12, 2015

What You Need To Know - Heat Exhaustion and Dehydration

Dehydration and Heat Exhaustion 
by Brenda Barnes, Hendry-Glades Health Department

Hot temperatures and high humidity means lots of sweating and this increases your chance of dehydration. To avoid becoming dehydrated, it is important to drink plenty of fluids, especially water (even if you don’t feel thirsty). Depending upon your physical activity and heat exposure during hot weather, it’s a good idea to drink even more water.

According to health experts, fluid requirements vary from person to person. Please keep in mind that people with medical conditions such as kidney disease, heart disease, or those who require a fluid restricted diet or who have problems with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their fluid consumption.

Knowing the signs of dehydration and knowing what to do, is very important.

Signs of dehydration can include:
Excessive thirst
Feeling dizzy or light headed
Muscle cramps
Feeling overly tired or sluggish
Feeling irritable

You could also experience decreased urine levels and/or urine that has a strong odor or is darker than normal. You may experience all, some or none of these signs. Don't wait for the symptoms of dry mouth, flushed skin, headaches, lightheadedness or fatigue. You should prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. Help to avoid becoming dehydrated by staying out of the direct sun, wearing light colored and loose fitting clothing, limiting physical activity, and using fans when possible. If you suspect you are becoming dehydrated, get to a cool or shady area and sip cool water or fluids. If your condition does not improve, seek medical attention immediately,

Another heat-related illness is heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion can develop after exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Elderly, people with high blood pressure or people who work or exercise in a hot environment, are more prone to heat exhaustion.

The warning signs of heat exhaustion can vary, but may include:

· Heavy sweating

· Paleness

· Muscle cramps

· Dilated pupils

· Tiredness or weakness

· Feeling dizzy or light headed

· Headache

· Nausea or vomiting

· Fainting

· Skin that feels cool and moist

· Pulse rate that is fast and weak

· Breathing that is fast and shallow.

If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. Seek medical attention immediately if your symptoms last longer than one hour, if symptoms become more severe, or if you have heart problems or high blood pressure. Try to cool down by drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages, resting in an air-conditioned environment, taking a cool shower, bath or sponge bath, and wearing lightweight clothing. You should also try to prevent sun burn, which damages the skin's ability to dissipate heat.

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