- Patient Comments: Heat Exhaustion - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Heat Exhaustion - Treatments
- Patient Comments: Heat Exhaustion - Causes
- Patient Comments: Heat Exhaustion - Complications
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- Heat exhaustion definition and facts
- What is heat exhaustion?
- What causes heat exhaustion?
- Who is at risk for heat exhaustion?
- What are the symptoms of heat exhaustion?
- When should an individual seek medical care for heat exhaustion
- How is heat exhaustion diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for heat exhaustion?
- What are the complications of heat exhaustion?
- How can heat exhaustion be prevented?
- What is the prognosis for heat exhaustion?
What is heat exhaustion?
The body cools itself most efficiently by sweating and having that sweat evaporate. Should sweating be unable to meet the cooling demands of the body, heat-related illness can occur. This is a spectrum of conditions with minor symptoms such as prickly heat or heat rash, progressing to heat cramps, then heat exhaustion, and finally to heat stroke, a life-threatening medical condition.
The line between each diagnosis is not sharply drawn. Heat cramps describe involuntary spasm of the large muscles of the body, while heat exhaustion has more systemic complaints. These can include profuse sweating, weakness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and muscle spasms. The affected individual may be a low grade fever. Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation where the body's cooling system fails. The body temperature spirals out of control usually greater than 106F (41 C), sweating stops, and there are mental status changes like confusion, seizure, or coma.
Heat exhaustion occurs when a person exercises or works in a hot environment and sweating cannot dissipate the heat generated within the body. Often dehydration occurs because the person hasn't replaced the water lost by sweating. Heat exhaustion also may occur if a person lives in a hot environment without adequate air circulation and does not drink an adequate amount of water.