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Heat Exhaustion

When Does Heat Exhaustion Become an Emergency?

If you live in a hot climate like Dallas’, it’s important to be aware of what to do in case of a heat emergency. Any number of conditions can cause you to become overcome by heat exhaustion, from working, playing, or even simply being outside too long during a particularly hot day. Exposure to high heat without proper preparation or reacting quickly to stave off complications could lead to an imminent, even life-threatening heat stroke, which is an emergency best handled by board-certified emergency medicine physicians.

The American Red Cross advises that extreme heat is one of the most dangerous types of severe weather, causing more deaths than all other weather-related incidents combined. Examples of tragic heat-related deaths include infants who are trapped in hot cars or frail elderly people who are too weak to withstand intense heat. Fortunately, you can take steps to stay safe and healthy to prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

What Are Some of the Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion?

Simply put, heat exhaustion is the result of the body being unable to cool itself sufficiently through sweating. Left untreated, it can lead to heat stroke, which can cause death.

5 symptoms that could indicate heat exhaustion include:

  1. Rapid heartbeat
  2. Sweaty skin
  3. Less sweating, cool skin
  4. Fainting, dizziness, lightheadedness
  5. Headache

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to take a break and sit down in a cool, shady, preferably air-conditioned place. Get cool cloths or ice packs to apply to your skin. Drink cold water or electrolyte-enhanced beverages to rehydrate yourself and rest for at least an hour, and take it easy for the next several hours. Avoid beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine. Wear light, loose breathable cotton clothing. Stay indoors and eat small meals frequently rather than large portions infrequently.

What if I Continue to Experience Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion After Resting?

If you continue to experience persistent symptoms of heat exhaustion like vomiting, unconsciousness, or listlessness, it’s important to go to your nearest ER to be seen right away to receive IV fluids and prescription medications so you can get back to feeling like yourself again.

How to Prepare When High Heat Is in the Forecast

You don’t have to be blindsided by hot summer days. The National Weather Service is your go-to resource for local excessive heat warnings, but you can also tune in to local weather forecasters.

Some of the terms that indicate a predicted heat wave include:

  • Excessive heat outlook
  • Excessive heat watch
  • Excessive heat warning/advisory

You can prevent heat exhaustion from derailing your plans by staying properly hydrated, gathering water and emergency supplies, taking action to keep your home cool, planning to go to a cool place to reduce heat-related illnesses, and taking action by checking in with your loved ones and pets to ensure they are healthy and taken care of, especially more vulnerable people like the very young, the elderly, or those with chronic health problems.

Advance ER Offers the Right Care in the Right Place at the Right Time

Remember, even the best-laid plans can get derailed, and it’s possible to suffer a heat-related emergency even with the proper preparation. Don’t feel discouraged. A fast trip to the nearest emergency room is the best course of action in this scenario. Our board-certified emergency physicians are standing by to help you when you need it most.

Advance ER is a freestanding emergency room available at two locations for patient convenience. For further information about heat exhaustion or heat stroke and how to keep yourself and your family safe, please contact us today at (214) 494-8222.