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First Aid for Heat Exhaustion

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

The Photographer

A sign and symptom of Heat Exhaustion may include excessive sweating.

What is Heat Exhaustion?

  • Heat Exhaustion is overheating of the body, as a result of working in hot conditions for an extended period of time, without replenishing the lost fluids and electrolytes
  • It can result in fatigue, increased heartbeat, cramping of the muscles, and even dehydration. In many cases, adequate rest and replenishment of lost body fluids is sufficient treatment

What are the Causes of Heat Exhaustion?

A Heat Exhaustion may be caused by:

  • Prolonged exposure to hot conditions
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive and extended physical activities without hydration
  • Insufficient or inappropriate fluid intake; especially drinking (only) plain water and not replenishing any lost electrolytes

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion?

Signs and symptoms of Heat Exhaustion may include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness and/or fainting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Moist, cold, and pale skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dark-coloredurine

How is First Aid administered for Heat Exhaustion?

First Aid tips for Heat Exhaustion include:

  • Move away from the sun to the shade (or to a cooler place)
  • Loosen tight clothes or remove extra clothing
  • Drink cool water, clear juices or a ‘sports drink’
  • Lay down with your legs elevated
  • DO NOT take any alcoholic beverages or drinks, with caffeine
  • Remain under the fan, if possible
  • Have a cool bath or ‘wet’ sponge your body
  • Take fluids every 15 minutes
  • Maintain close observation for any worsening signs or symptoms

Call 911 (or your local emergency number), or seek medical help, if the following are noted:

  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Worsening of the above-mentioned symptoms
  • Unconsciousness
  • High fever (greater than 102 deg. F)

Who should administer First Aid for Heat Exhaustion?

The individual suffering from Heat Exhaustion can follow the initial First Aid steps. They should approach a medical professional, if the symptoms worsen.

What is the Prognosis of Heat Exhaustion?

The prognosis is usually good, if Heat Exhaustion is addressed in a timely manner. The condition may lead to a heat stroke, if adequate treatment measures are not taken.

How can Heat Exhaustion be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Heat Exhaustion:

  • Avoid physical activity in hot conditions
  • Wear appropriate clothing during sport activities
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine on hot days
  • Replenish the lost body fluids and electrolytes, in a timely manner

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE, with appropriate fluids containing electrolytes
  • Avoid excessive physical activity, under hot conditions
  • Avoid alcohol on hot days
  • Call 911 (or your local emergency number), or seek medical help, if symptoms worsen

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Nov. 26, 2013
Last updated: March 5, 2018