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HEAT EXHAUSTION

It’s important to stay safe when the temperature is high.

People who are on high blood pressure medications are at higher risk of heat exhaustion for two reasons:

1.      Some blood pressure medicines get rid of fluid for you and the heat also gets rid of more fluid. Therefore it is much easier to get dehydrated in the heat.

2.      Other blood pressure medicines dilate your blood vessels and so does the heat. This can cause your blood pressure to drop too low, making your blood pressure medicine feel too strong.

Heat exhaustion is one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke the most severe. It occurs when the body is unable to cool itself enough to maintain a healthy temperature.

Your risk of heat stress is increased by overexertion in hot weather, sun or bushfire exposure, and exercising or working in hot, poorly ventilated or confined areas

People Most At Risk

Extreme heat affects anybody and those most at risk are;

·         Older people over 65 years, particularly those living alone or without air conditioning

·         Babies and young children

·         People with a medical condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity or underweight, diabetes or lung disease.

·         Pregnant and nursing mothers

Causes of Heat Exhaustion

·       Inability of your body to cool itself: During the hot weather, your body cools itself by sweating. The evaporation of your sweat regulates your body temperature but when you exercise strenuously or overexert in hot, humid weather, your body is unable to cool itself efficiently.

·       Overdressing

·       Alcohol use: This can affect your body’s ability to regulate your temperature

·       Dehydration: In order to keep healthy, your body temperature needs to stay around 37°C. Therefore, if you become dehydrated, you don’t sweat as much and your body temperature keeps rising. This reduces your body’s ability to sweat and maintain a normal temperature.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion may include:

Act quickly if you notice symptoms of overheating.

·         Deterioration in existing medical conditions

·         Heat rash – Also called ‘prickly heat’, is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating. It is most common in young children and looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters.

·         Heat cramps – these may include muscle pains or spasms, which is usually in the abdomen, arms or legs. Heat cramps may occur after strenuous activity in a hot environment when the body gets depleted of salt and water.

·         Babies and young children may show signs of being restless, and irritable.

·         Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat

·         Heavy sweating

·         Faintness

·         Dizziness

·         Fatigue and Headache

·         Weak, rapid pulse

·         Low blood pressure upon standing

·         Muscle cramps

·         Confusion

·         Nausea

·         Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration)

Preventing Heat Exhaustion

·         Avoid fluids containing either caffeine or alcohol

·         Drink plenty of water even if you don’t feel thirsty, to prevent dehydration

·         Avoid exposure to heat

·         Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more to protect against sunburn.

·         Check with your healthcare professional before starting an exercise routine if you are experiencing symptoms or have a specific medical question or chronic disease.

·         Eat fruits and vegetables

·         Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat.

·         Never leave anyone in a parked car.

·         Stay in well-ventilated areas.

If untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, which is a life-threatening condition that occurs when your core body temperature (Your body’s heat combined with environmental heat – your body’s internal temperature) reaches 104⁰F (40⁰C) or higher. Heatstroke requires urgent medical attention in order to prevent permanent damage to your brain and other vital organs of your body which can lead to death.

Symptoms of heat stroke

·         Fever (temperature above 104 °F)

·         Irrational behavior

·         Extreme confusion

·         Dry, hot, and red skin

·         Rapid, shallow breathing

·         Rapid, weak pulse

·         Seizures

·         Unconsciousness

 

If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.

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