Heat exhaustion isn’t just uncomfortable. It can damage your kidneys or liver, impact your heart rate, and cause a coma. Heat exhaustion has even been known to damage the brain, so it’s important to avoid it. Fortunately, heat exhaustion can usually be prevented with some thoughtfulness.
First, you can limit your exposure to the heat and sun by staying indoors, especially during the hottest part of your day. Plan outdoor activities for cooler morning and evening hours or save them for days when it won’t be as hot. Similarly, choose times for activity that have humidity levels lower than 60%. Limit how much time you do spend outdoors; spend less time outdoors, and avoid overly strenuous activities. Make sure to pause from the activity and allow yourself to rest in the shade.
Wearing sunscreen is essential to avoid heat-related illness. Sunburn actually makes it more difficult four your body to cool down or stay hydrated. Choose SPf 15 or higher. Many people become sunburned because they do not reapply sunscreen as often as suggested to protect their skin. A wide-brimmed hat can also help. While some people opt for minimal clothing to remain cool, it’s smarter to wear light-colored clothing that fits loosely to protect your skin from sunburn further and stay cool.
Aside from the tips mentioned above, it’s best to remain hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and drinks with high sugar content because they do not hydrate as well as water. Drinks that contain electrolytes may help when you sweat heavily because those minerals are removed from the body with sweat.
If you find your body temperature rising, consider a cool shower and an air-conditioned environment. A fan may make you feel cooler and more comfortable, but it’s not enough to prevent heat exhaustion.
You should be on the lookout for the symptoms of heat exhaustion and sickness, even if you take the precautions mentioned above. Signs of heat exhaustion include:
- excessive sweating
You may also experience a temperature increase, heart racing, and muscle cramps. Lightheadedness, pale skin, goosebumps, and a flushed face are also common. Heat exhaustion can cause some people to become irritable or even aggressive.