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How to prevent heat exhaustion

Who doesn’t get excited about the summertime to enjoy those outdoor activities such as playing Volleyball, Softball, hiking, biking, running, or simply going for a walk outside getting that much needed Vitamin D from the sun?! Ah, yes, I love summertime and although I’ve lived in warmer states for the last 8 years I still recall the very cold Chicago weather and how everyone would come out of the woodworks just to enjoy the one month or 2 of the hot and humid summer. During these hotter months it’s really important to stay well hydrated or you might end up with health problems such as heat exhaustion that can lead to heat stroke that lands you in the hospital like a friend of mine some time ago. EEEK! Below are some key ways about how to prevent heat exhaustion from happening to you or any of your loved ones.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion can occur when a person has been out in the heat for a few days and gets dehydrated. Water and salt depletion occurs. If heat exhaustion isn’t taken care of it can become heat stroke in the extreme case. It’s important to address heat exhaustion as soon as it occurs so that it doesn’t lead to heat stroke. Treatment for this condition is to get out of the heat and into a cooler area, drink fluids such as coconut water or regular cold water and if possible get a cold wet cloth onto your skin and clothes off. Get cooler and don’t try to be a tough guy/girl about it!

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  1. Pale skin
  2. Muscle cramps
  3. Nausea
  4. Confusion
  5. Dark urine
  6. Fatigue
  7. Headache
  8. Dizziness
  9. Rapid heartbeat
  10. Sweating a lot

Dehydration and exercise

Dehydration is a potentially deadly problem with any athlete, competitive or amateur including the weekend warrior types during races or outdoor sport activities especially in the hotter summer months. The body thermal regulates temperatures by sweating which is evaporated and cools the body. Exercise increases the body’s temperature but it is increased even more so out during a very hot day with the sun blazing down on you. Humidity makes this condition worse and not better as one might think because the cooling is less and the sweat can’t evaporate. Muscles cramps are an indication that you are dehydrated and may or are starting to get heat exhaustion that if left untreated leads to heat stroke. Athletes have died due to this because they tend to push through pain and keep going but it’s important to listen to your body and stop to re-hydrate when this occurs.

Treatment and Prevention

  1. Clothing – there are plenty of workout clothes that ‘wick’ the sweat away from the body, loose and light-weight materials as well as lighter colors are best.
  2. Acclimate to the climate you are doing your race in if, it’s a new one by going there 2 weeks beforehand and exercising in it but, be very well hydrated.
  3. Steer clear of too much caffeine as they are diuretics and will deplete your body of water. Also, some medications do the same thing so be aware of the side effects of any medications you might be on.
  4. HYDRATE! Drink plenty of fluids before during and after the race to replenish what you’ve lost or will lose. Might seem like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how many don’t do it.

Your body is made up of about 70% of water, give or take which means it needs good quality water to keep it healthy and functioning optimally. Tea and coffee don’t count so don’t forget to start this healthy habit today and you’ll be good to go for all future races and or outdoor activities in general.


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