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Protect Yourself From Heat Exhaustion

A man who appears to be exercising at the beach.

Dizziness, nausea, fatigue, heavy sweating and fainting can be signs of heat exhaustion.

(Photo: shakzu / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

This summer, as the temperatures rise, be sure to pay attention to what your body is telling you. Heat exhaustion is a result of your body overheating. Though not as serious as heatstroke, which can be fatal, heat exhaustion can be scary. It could also lead to heatstroke if untreated.

The Causes of Heat Exhaustion

According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common causes of heat exhaustion are exposure to hot weather – particularly when combined with high humidity – and strenuous physical activity. Dehydration, which reduces your body’s ability to sweat, is another cause.

All three disrupt your body’s ability to cool itself efficiently, causing symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, nausea, heavy sweating, fainting and more.

Athletes who train outdoors during the summer are prone to heat exhaustion, as are people under 4 years old and over 65 because they are less tolerant of heat.

How to Prevent Heat Exhaustion

To protect yourself and your family from heat exhaustion, follow these prevention tips from the Mayo Clinic.

  • Wear loose, lightweight clothing.
  • Avoid sunburn by wearing sunglasses with UV protection and wide-brimmed hats, as well as applying broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity in hot weather. Do it indoors if you can or schedule it for the cooler times of the day (usually morning or evening).
  • Be mindful of medications that may increase your risk of having heat-related problems.
  • Don’t leave anyone – pet or person – in a parked car for even the smallest amount of time. The temperature in a parked car can rise about 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Cracking the windows or parking in a shady area won’t keep the temperature down. Even a seemingly harmless, 70-degree day could quickly become dangerous.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion, stop all activity, move to a cooler place and drink cool water or sports drinks with electrolytes. Contact your doctor if symptoms worsen or don’t improve within one hour.

Have any tips for staying cool during summer activities? Tell us in the comments below.

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