Heat Exhaustion - Treatments

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What is the treatment for heat exhaustion?

  • Cooling and rehydration are the cornerstones for treating heat exhaustion. The affected individual should stop their activity and then move from the hot environment to a cooler environment. The person may be placed in the shade or taken to an air conditioned environment (don't forget that cars have air conditioning). Clothes may be removed to help with air circulation across the body. Misting the skin with cool water also helps by stimulating evaporation and cooling the body.
  • Rehydration is the next important step in treating heat exhaustion. This may be a challenge if the person begins to suffer from nausea and vomiting. Small sips of water, a mouthful at a time, might be tolerated even if some vomiting persists. Water, sports drink and other electrolyte replacement drinks are reasonable options.
  • If oral rehydration fails or if symptoms persist, intravenous fluids may be required to replace the water loss because of the excessive sweating. Hydration continues until the patient begins to urinate, a signal that the kidneys have sensed that there is enough fluid in the body, and it no longer retains fluid.
  • Muscles cramps and pain may be treated with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, etc.) and acetaminophen (Tylenol and others).
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Published: May 29

I was on a fishing trip with my husband and two children on May 25, 2012. I had to walk a good distance to reach the water and was considerably hotter than I am used to. We stayed for about 2 hours. As we walked back to the vehicle, I began to feel weak and sweat profusely. I got in my car and began the drive back home. I thought the air conditioner would be sufficient at cooling me off fast enough. I soon found out this was not the case. I pulled off the side of the road about 2 miles into the return trip. I asked my husband to take over driving, and proceeded to vomit and eventually dry heave for the remainder of the hour and a half trip home. I trembled, had cold sweats, headache, and was very disoriented. It was very scary. I continued to throw up and could not keep down even a sip of water for about an hour after I got home. I eventually fell asleep and when I woke up I was still pretty weak, but was able to rehydrate myself slowly over the last few hours of the day. I am still weak, queasy, and sluggish today. I guess it will take a few days to get back to myself.

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Comment from: grammie, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: August 23

My husband and I went to another state for my birthday. It was hotter and dryer than where we live. The first two days we walked outside in the hot weather. Sometimes we were in the shade. I noticed I was a little more tired than I usually am. On the third day we headed home. We stopped in another town to go to a festival. The heat there was hot and dry. I drank more pop than water. We continued on home. When got in the car, the a/c was on, but I noticed I never cooled down and I was still hot. When we arrived home I went in the house it felt like an oven I turned on the a/c I noticed I was getting hot and sweating profusely. I started to get dizzy and the nausea started. My husband helped me to the bed and I laid flat. I had him get me some Ice Packs. I put one on the back of my neck on the top of my head and on my legs. In about 8 minutes I noticed I was cooling a little. I fell asleep after I woke up. I was back to no heating, very little nausea and dizziness. But I was very tired. The next day I woke up with a headache and pressure on top of my head. I called my doctor. He told me to go to the emergency room to get checked out. I do have a heart condition. I went to the emergency room they did a EKG CT Scan to see if I was having a brain bleed because of my meds. I passed all the tests and everything was normal. The doctor told me this is from the heat exhaustion. He said I tell everyone that had heat exhaustion stay out of extreme heat for about 5 days. You will be more sensitive to hot heat after you have had heat exhaustion. Always wear a hat in hot weather, carry water, find shade, and rest. Stay hydrated, don't drink soda when you are going to be in extreme heat. It will dehydrate you faster. Take as much clothes off as you can. Fanning will help. My husband fanned me along with everything else for 10 minutes before I could feel the cooling. No matter where we travel to again I am taking a hat, carrying water when I walk, and resting whenever I feel tired. I am still tired and not able to do much however I am much better.

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