Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion sweating

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of heat exhaustion

In the recent years, global warming and ozone depletion have steadily increased alongside rapid industrial growth and urbanization. The direct impact of increased Earth surface temperature has been felt by residents of industrial areas who are exposed to extreme smoke and heat conditions throughout the day. In general, inhabitants of tropical, sub-tropical, arid, semi-arid and equatorial regions are subjected to direct sun rays throughout the year which gives rise to numerous heat-related disorders within them. A very common disorder under this category is “heat exhaustion” which affects mainly elderly and middle-aged people. Recent epidemiological studies by World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that each year nearly 2000 deaths are reported in tropical countries due to heat waves in summer. Extreme heat exhaustion for a prolonged period may eventually result in heat stroke. The global burden due to heat stress and heat exhaustion is very high at present and has left global health organizations worried.

 

 

What is heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion heat strokeHeat exhaustion is the pathological condition in which the body becomes extremely weak due to excessive loss of water and essential minerals from the body after prolonged exposure to extreme heat conditions. With the progress of the clinical conditions, the body gradually loses its capacity to cool on its own through perspiration. This leads to an elevated body temperature that may further lead to heat stroke and death. Heat exhaustion is also accompanied by extreme dehydration due to loss of a significant portion of the body fluids that causes electrolyte imbalance in a few cases. The thermoregulation center of the body is directly impacted in this case that leads to an abnormal increase in body temperature.

 

Causes of heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is primarily caused due to extreme heat in the environment. The etiological factors that precipitate heat exhaustion are discussed below:

  • Direct and prolonged exposure to strong ultraviolet rays of the sun
  • Frequent exposure to other sources of UV radiation such as UV lamps or UV rays used during radiation therapies
  • Extremely hot weather with little or no breeze
  • Extreme sensitivity to change in temperature or unaccustomed exposure to sudden heat conditions
  • Profuse sweating due to overactivated sweat glands
  • Extreme fatigue due to loss of body fluids and minerals through perspiration
  • Occupational requirements (affects factory workers and blast furnace workers)
  • Inadequate ventilation
  • Wearing heavy and dark colored clothes in extremely hot weather
  • Decreased adaptation capacity (acclimatization) of the body to variations in temperature (in aged people)
  • Few over-the-counter drugs (vasoconstrictors and beta-blockers) that impede the normal thermoregulation mechanism of the body
  • Abnormally elevated body temperature when the body finally loses its capacity to cool by sweating (nearly 105o F)
  • Chronic cardiovascular diseases (in aged people)
  • Alcohol or tobacco consumption on a regular basis that directly attacks the thermoregulation center of the body
  • Low intake of fluids causing dehydration
  • A sharp decline in the levels of certain minerals in the body, especially sodium (causes electrolyte imbalance)
  • The absence of essential micronutrients and minerals in the regular diet
  • Impaired functioning of sweat ducts (due to bacterial infections, sweat accumulation or skin ointments that clog sweat glands)
  • Insufficient cooling of the body due to existing illnesses or lack of bathing
  • Exposure to the sun between 10 AM- 2 PM (maximum intensity of sunrays)
  • Leisure activities in summer such as tanning, swimming, surfing, skiing
  • Reduced use of sunscreens, hats, heat-friendly clothing and sunglasses

 

Symptoms of heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion sweatingHeat exhaustion symptoms manifest themselves after prolonged periods of exposure to the direct rays of the sun, or other sources of UV radiation. The following symptoms are commonly observed-

  • Profuse sweating (may lead to loss of body salts and fluids)
  • Drying up and inflammation of the skin
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • A throbbing headache (may be persistent and can lead to migraines
  • Mental state, confusion, and irritability
  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • Seizures and convulsions (occasional)
  • Mild body pain (occasional)
  • The appearance of rashes on the skin surface (very rare)

 

Types of heat exhaustion

A broad classification of heat exhaustion can be done based on the severity of the disease. These are discussed below-

  • Exertional heat exhaustion: This type of heat exhaustion is caused due to working at extremely high-temperature conditions. It is characterized by a few serious complications such as muscle cramps, abnormal drop in blood pressure (heat syncope) and an unusual degree of perspiration (diaphoresis). Loss of function of sense organs may occur in extreme cases and this condition is known as “altered sensorium”. Marathon athletes, firefighters, and blast furnace workers are prone to this kind of heat exhaustion. In few rare cases, exertional heat stroke also occurs due to certain over-the-counter medications such as amphetamines which abnormally accelerate motor activities.
  • Classical heat exhaustion: It is also called non-exertional heat exhaustion and occurs on staying in extremely high temperature for a long period of time (may lead to hyperthermia). People with a reduced rate of perspiration due to chronic illnesses and old people with chronic cardiovascular disorders have high risks of developing classical heat exhaustion. In the advanced stage, these people may exhibit symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, convulsions, and seizures. This clearly indicates that the Central Nervous System is severely impacted due to these kinds of heat disorders. Dysfunctions of cranial nerve and cerebellar nerve may be observed on diagnostic examination. 

 

Genetics of heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion can also be precipitated by certain genetic factors. There are few genes such as IL6, IL10, and TNF which are responsible for cytokine-encoding. These along with genes regulating the production of “heat-shock” proteins determine risks of heat exhaustion.

 

Diagnosis

The following diagnostic tests are usually recommended for heat exhaustion patients-

  • Electrocardiography (to check if the cardiovascular system has been affected)
  • Kidney function tests
  • Muscle function tests (to examine any damage to muscle tissue)

 

Treatment and prevention

Treatment 

  • Heat exhaustion waterTake shelter in a cool place – Try and get shelter with some air conditioning. This can help in reducing the heat levels in your body.
  • Have cool beverages – Consume beverages that will hydrate you and keep your body cool. Do not consume any beverages that could dehydrate you.
  • Try to keep yourself cool – Have a cool shower, apply ice wrapped in a towel or cover yourself with a cool towel.
  • Wear loose clothing – During summer, wear clothing that is not too tight and restricting. Remove any extra clothing if you start to sweat profusely.
  • Rest in cool water/baths – Immerse yourself in a cool bath at home. If you are outside, take a dip in a shallow pond or lake till your body temperature come back to normal.
  • Carry ice packs – In case you go out for a treck and get heat exhaustion, carry some ice packs with you. Ice packs or ice wrapped in a towel and put on the body helps in bringing body temperatures back to normal.
  • Medications to stop the shivering – In case, you have excess shivering and your body temperature is not back to normal, certain medications can help in reducing the shivering.

Prevention

  • Use proper sun protection.
  • Do not wear tight clothes, choose loose clothing.
  • Try and wear light colors during the summer, dark colors tend to trap more heat.
  • Remember to stay hydrated.
  • Do not exert yourself under the hot sun.
  • Take precaution against the heat.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Make sure that you do not ignore the signs, sweating is the body’s natural heat indicator.
  • Keep your surroundings cool, this helps in keeping your body’s temperature at its required levels.
  • Make sure that you carry water and energy boosters to keep yourself hydrated, when going out. This makes it easier to handle situations in case someone has a heat exhaustion.
Don'ts
  • Forget to stay hydrated; this is important regardless of the climate and weather condition.
  • Indulge in strenuous activities under the hot sun; this increases your chances of getting heat exhaustion.
  • Wear tight and dark coloured clothes, they tend to absorb more heat.

 

 

 

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6 arguments in favour of glucosamine and where can you find it Studies have shown that glucosamine works by preventing the breakdown of cartilage of the joints. This is usually…
Spinach: The ultimate way to boost health with this green superfood! Spinach is a green superfood that ranks high in both taste and nutrition. Read more to discover how…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
cystatin C
Cystatin C Test Cystatin C is a specific single-chain protein that is found in body fluids and is a biomarker for…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Period sanitary napkin-menstruaion-blood-colors
Period blood – what it says about your health Your period blood color and consistency indicate what is happening in your body. Is your blood bright red…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
Fibromyalgia fatigue
HCG Diet: The dangers of using this diet to lose weight HCG is a natural hormone produced by both men and women that corresponds to fertility. But how is…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
cytomegalovirus iGG
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)- IgG Test The cytomegalovirus IgG is the immunoglobulin protein produced by our immune system when the body is infected by…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
Turner syndrome and infertility
Infertility profile (women) The infertility profile tests in women are conducted to form a complete picture of the hormonal balance and…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
Bronchoscopy procedure
Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is a procedure where in a scope is inserted into the lung pathway to observe any growth…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Echocardiogram
Echocardiography – ECHO Echocardiography (commonly known as ECHO) is an imaging modality (similar to ultrasonography) used to visualize the interior of…
creatinine
Creatinine Test The level of creatinine in the blood is a significant indicator of the health of your kidneys. This…
top 10 deadliest diseases
What are the top 10 deadliest diseases and what is causing them? What are the largest killers of human lives across the globe? Which diseases are the most fatal ones?…
Anti-Inflammatory foods: 18 foods to a disease-free you Anti-inflammatory foods are the foods which are known to reduce the inflammation as well as the pain from…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
beta hcg test
Beta hCG Test A Beta hCG test measures the level of human gonadotropin hormones present in the blood that is primarliy…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the most powerful antioxidant…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
chloride test
Chloride Test A chloride test of the blood checks the level of chloride in body, an important factor governing the…
kidney stones
Kidney stones Kidney stones are solid substances made up of crystals. They can be of various sizes. Treatment depend on…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
The Shepherd's diet
Facts about the Shepherd’s diet Kristina Wilds promoted Shepherd's diet, a Christian-based diet that highlights Jesus Christ's diet as mentioned in the Bible.
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
colposcopy
Colposcopy Colposcopy is a simple, quick and non- invasive diagnostic tool to look closely inside the vulva, vagina, and…
Graston technique: A faster way to accelerate your rehabilitation after injury Graston technique is designed in such a way that any pain related to the soft tissue can be…
Vitamin K2: 8 reasons why you need this bone-building & cancer-fighting nutrient Vitamin K2 is claimed to be essential for your bone health, for reducing the risk of cancer, and…

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