Heat Exhaustion- How To Prevent It, How To Treat It + Herbal Remedies For Heat

The heat and humidity we're having this summer is INSANE. I can't remember it ever being this hot and humid! In this kind of weather, it's so easy to get dehydrated, heat exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke. My father almost completely collapsed from heat exhaustion a day back. We had to call the ambulance and everything. Being certified in First Aid, I recognized his symptoms and knew what to do until the ambulance came. You may not. Thus I'm writing this article to tell you how to prevent heat exhaustion, and what to do if you or a family member gets it. Please remember, heat exhaustion if untreated, can lead to heat stroke, which can be FATAL. Which means that you can DIE from your body being overheated.

What is heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion happens when your body overheats. Heat exhaustion can begin suddenly, usually after working or playing in the heat, perspiring heavily or being dehydrated. It's one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heat stroke being the most severe.
Causes of heat exhaustion include exposure to high temperatures, particularly when combined with high humidity, and strenuous physical activity. 
Symptoms of heat exhaustion:
  • Faintness or dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Heavy sweating often accompanied by cold, clammy skin
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Pale or flushed face
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache
  • Weakness or fatigue
What to do if you see someone that has heat exhaustion:

Untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which is a life-threatening condition. If you suspect heat exhaustion, take these steps immediately:

  • Move the person out of the heat and into a shady or air-conditioned place.
  • Lay the person down and elevate the legs and feet slightly.
  • Remove tight or heavy clothing.
  • Have the person drink cool water or other non-alcoholic beverage without caffeine.
  • Cool the person by spraying or sponging with cool water and fanning.
  • Monitor the person carefully.
Call 999 or your local emergency number if the person's condition deteriorates, especially if he or she experiences:
  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Fever of 104 F (40 C) or greater
What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heat stroke can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher.
Heat stroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated heat stroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.
Symptoms of heat stroke:
  • High body temperature. A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heat stroke.
  • Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heat stroke.
  • Alteration in sweating. In heat stroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heat stroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel moist.
  • Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
  • Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
  • Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
  • Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
  • Headache. Your head may throb.
What to do if you see someone that has heat stroke:
If you think a person may be experiencing heat stroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 999 or your local emergency services number. Take immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment.
  • Get the person into shade or indoors.
  • Remove excess clothing.
  • Cool the person with whatever means available — put in a cool tub of water or a cool shower, spray with a garden hose, sponge with cool water, fan while misting with cool water, or place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person's head, neck, armpits and groin.
Source: Mayo Clinic

How to prevent heat exhaustion in the first place

          These are a few of my tips to always stay hydrated and prevent heat exhaustion:

    ·         Be mindful of your water intake. Always think about how much water you've been drinking in the day. If you have been driving around in the sun or spent some time outside sweating because of the humidity, be aware of it and replenish the water your body must have lost {sip slowly, don't guzzle}. 

    ·         Carry water with you EVERYWHERE. Keep 3 bottles of water in your car. Have small bottles of water filled and kept ready on your shoe stand or near your door to grab on your way out. Always keep a bottle of water in your handbag. NEVER be without water. It's almost like you're gluing a bottle of water to your hand. Sip on it all day.
    ·         Water goals. Keep a big bottle of water on your work table and aim to finish it only during the day. Have more at night.

    ·         Other fluids. Drink unsweetened fruit juice, make smoothies at home, infuse water with fruit and herbs, and eat more water-rich foods like cucumbers and watermelon. 

    ·         Keep Oral Rehydration Solution {ORS} in your fridge. You can get it at any pharmacy. Have it when you're feeling super-drained. Give it to anyone suffering from heat exhaustion.

    ·         Keep drinks like Pocari Sweat and other restorative drinks in you fridge. Drink them after you've done a strenuous workout or after you've been in the sun for long. Avoid sugar-laden drinks like soft drinks, Gatorade and Red Bull. 

    Herbal remedies for heat exhaustion

These herbal remedies are great for heat exhaustion, as a post-workout drink, or just to cool down and feel refreshed:

·         Coriander water:  One tsp of coriander water boiled in 1 cup of water, cooled and stored. Lasts for 1 day. Helps to cool the body.

·         Pomegranate juice: Buy it from a cafe or make it at home. It's a coolant and is packed with great nutrients.

·         Coconut water: Restores electrolytes in the body. Try to get fresh coconut water if possible.

·         Honey lemon water: 1 cup of water, 1 tsp of honey and 2-3 drops of lemon. Add 2 pinches of cumin powder. Honey brings energy back to the body, lemon juice has antioxidants, and cumin is a cooling herb.

·         Herbal ORS: Pinch of salt, small piece of jaggery, 1/4 tsp cumin powder. Mix in 2 cups of water.

·         Green tea:  Let it cool and have without sugar.

That's it! Keep these points in mind and avoid getting heat exhaustion and prevent your family and loved ones from getting it. Stay in the shade, stay in the air-con, drink a lot of water and fluids, and be safe this summer!

Until next time

Shabana Feroze

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