Heat Exhaustion - Causes

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If you or someone you know has experienced heat exhaustion, what do you feel was the cause?

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What causes heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion occurs when a person exercises and works in a hot environment and the body cannot cool itself adequately. Dehydration occurs with water loss from excessive sweating, which causes muscle cramps, weakness, and nausea and vomiting. This makes it difficult to drink enough fluid to replenish the body's water supply, and the lack of body water impairs further sweating, evaporation and cooling.

Relative humidity is an important factor in developing heat exhaustion. If the humidity is too high, sweat on the skin cannot evaporate into the surrounding air and body temperature cooling fails.

Living in a hot environment may predispose a person to heat exhaustion. During a heat wave, the elderly, the poor, and those who live an isolated life may not have access to air conditioning and are at risk of heat-related illnesses.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Hmmm, 55-64 Male (Caregiver) Published: August 05

My husband works in an environment in which the stationary objects register with a heat gun at temperatures of 106 to 120 degrees routinely during summer months. He works 12 hour shifts. While told to take frequent water breaks in an air conditioned booth, those who do so are considered slackers and are given longer 'to do' lists. He returned home yesterday morning with nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, severe headache and had sweated profusely changing shirts a couple times and wringing them out to bag them for laundry. He ate lightly and tried to stay hydrated. Once home, he treated himself with water, electrolytes, ibuprofen for headache, and bed rest. It has been over 24 hours. He is not fully well yet, but beginning to gain strength and alertness. He works with others at his job to improve conditions, but too much noise leads to negative consequences. Jobs in his field are precious and few and retirement now not an option.

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Comment from: BLady, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: July 15

I was in my bee yard on some rural property. I had my protective bee suit which probably contributed to my experience. Symptoms of heat exhaustion came on pretty suddenly and when I started having muscle cramps I knew I had to get to somewhere cool and drink water. There must have been some mental confusion because when I drove to my camper I failed to set my parking brake and the car rolled down an embankment. I didn't vomit until about 12 hours later after being in the air conditioning for at least 6 hours. Two days later after an hour in my garden early in the morning I started to get a headache and nausea again. This time I got inside quickly! This is nothing to take casually. By the way one of the risk factors is being on antihistamines; which I was.

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