By Coach Lizette

 Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

Heat exhaustion is a result of excessive heat and dehydration. If untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. One of the first signs of heat exhaustion is muscle cramping.

Signs and symptoms: paleness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, general weakness, fainting, heavy sweating, pale/cold/clammy skin, weak but fast pulse, temperature of 99-102 degrees.

Heat stroke is a serious medical condition and requires immediate medical attention.

Signs and symptoms- temperature >103 with absence of sweat, strong and fast pulse, delirious, loss or change of consciousness, seizures, hot/red/dry skin.

The main cause of overheating is because the body is unable to cool itself down. When you over exercise, or have a strenuous workout in hot weather the body might not be able to produce enough sweat to cool you down. Dehydration is a big risk factor in heat related conditions. Heat exhaustion usually leads to heat stroke over an extended period of time, but can come on very quickly when it’s very hot or when someone’s overexerting themselves. Children under 4 and adults over 65 are also at higher risks for developing. Certain medications used for high blood pressure or heart conditions can also affect the body’s ability to stay hydrated and puts a person at higher risk.

Heat exhaustion treatment:

1)   Get out of the heat and rest.

2)   Cool the body down asap. putting ice packs under armpits and groin area.

3)    Go in a cooler room or in front of a fan.

4)   Remove any tight or unnecessary clothing.

5)   Drink plenty of fluids.

6)   Cool shower/bath.

Symptoms should improve within 15-30 minutes max. If no relief is felt, seek immediate medical attention. After recovering from heat exhaustion a person is more sensitive to high temperatures for 1-2 weeks, so they should avoid strenuous exercise or hot environments during that time.

Prevention Tips

  • Stay hydrated! Drink two to four cups of water every hour that you are doing activities outside in the heat or direct sun. Your body needs more water than usual when working in a hot environment because you’ll lose more fluids through sweating.
  • A general recommendation for those doing moderate- to high-intensity exercise is to drink 17 to 20 ounces of fluid two to three hours before exercise, and consider adding another eight ounces of water or sports drink right before exercise. During exercise, you should consume another seven to ten ounces of water every 20 minutes, even if you don't feel thirsty. Also, drink another 8 ounces within a half hour after exercise.
  • Avoid alcohol or caffeinated beverages if you are doing strenuous activities, especially in the heat. The caffeine increases your risk for dehydration. 
  • Try to avoid doing activities outside during the hottest parts of the day and in direct sunlight. 
  • Wear light-colored, loose, lightweight clothing when doing activities outside in the heat.
  • Take cooler baths or showers on a hot day to help cool you down. 
  • Take frequent breaks when working or exercising in the heat.


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