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Twice Bitten: How to Prevent and Recover from Heat Exhaustion at Home
What is heat exhaustion?
Have you ever been so hot that you felt drunk later? Exhausted? Completely unable to wake up mentally for days? Your temperature fluctuates and you feel unwell around the board.
Maybe you were out hiking, running, biking, playing volleyball, or some other exhausting sport.
You could even suffer from heat exhaustion if you were out walking, mowing the lawn, or swimming at the beach.
The consequences are very serious. Heat exhaustion is one step before heat stroke. It's like you're shorting out your system and if the condition gets too severe, it can be fatal.
Since I am not an expert, I've provided links below to some who are.
Heat exhaustion can result from quite a few factors and by remedying these individually, you can help your body recover better.
Alright, let me tell you all right here, right now. I am NOT a doctor, nurse, or medical professional in anyway. I have, however, suffered from heat exhaustion TWICE despite all attempts to avoid it. These are tips and results from my own experiences.
Heat Exhaustion First Aid
- Heat exhaustion: First aid - MayoClinic.com
How to recognize and provide first-aid treatment for heat exhaustion.
- Heat Exhaustion - Symptoms and Prevention of Heat Exhaustion in Athletes
If you exercise in hot weather, you may be at risk for developing heat exhaustion, a serious condition that can quickly become heat stroke if not treated promptly. Learn how to recognize and prevent heat exhaustion before it becomes heat stroke.
- Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms, Warning Signs, and Treatment Information on MedicineNet.com
Heat exhaustion symptoms include dizziness, muscle weakness, and nausea or vomiting. Learn how to recognize the warning signs and treatment of heat exhaustion.
Once you get it, you can get it again.
Heat exhaustion likes to strike multiple times. After one bout of heat exhaustion, your chance of repeat business increases.
You might not be as lucky the next time around. Make changes in your lifestyle now to prevent this from happening again.
Naturally, heat is one of the most significant factors in heat exhaustion.
The bright sun increases your surface temperatures. Dark hair will absorb tremendous heat in the light. Often, your skin will burn in cases of heat exhaustion. It doesn't always happen, though. Sometimes you just overheat. You need more fluids and a little time to cool down.
Remember, the human body isn't a machine. We can only stay alive in certain temperatures, unlike the metal of cars. If we overheat, our body will go into survival-mode to stay alive. This can lead to organ damage and death.
To prevent this, try to stay in the shade. If that's not possible, wear a hat or carry an umbrella (I think we can even call it a parasol in this regard).
Take frequent breaks to cool down and rehydrate. Do not rush yourself and pay close attention to your body's signals.
If you feel faint, weak, or nauseated, you need to take a break immediately. Rehydrate and eat a banana or some form of protein. If you do not take a break at this point, you may be heading towards very severe consequences.
Have you ever had heat exhaustion?
A lack of fluids is one of the biggest causes of heat exhaustion. The body loses the ability to sweat and therefore, the body cannot maintain its temperature. This leads to overheating, as well.
To prevent dehydration, it is crucial to drink as much water as possible when you are outdoors. Even if you don't think you're thirsty, you are.
I'd even recommend spraying yourself with water to cool off if you start to feel too hot.
Think you've got it? Do this now.
If you even think you have heat exhaustion, it's time to take a break.
- Go inside or to a shaded area. Find a cool place, but keep a jacket or blanket around. Your body might struggle to cool down and you don't want to get cold. If you shiver, your body starts pumping out energy to warm up. This defeats the purpose and can undo the healing.
- Drink cool water. It doesn't have to have ice and you don't want to shock your system. Sip a few glasses of cool water. Keep an eye on your thirst throughout the evening and try to hydrate. See below for the best fluids and foods to aid rehydration!
- Stay indoors for the rest of the evening. Eat a hearty meal with protein and nutrients like a lean chicken breast, broccoli, and brown rice. Walk around the house a few times to keep your body active, but not hot.
- Monitor your condition. If you start to feel nauseated or you just cannot regulate your temperature, you need to seek professional help immediately.
Natural Ways to Recover
If you have a mild case of heat exhaustion or you just feel like you had too much sun, do the following.
Restock your levels of salt, magnesium, potassium, and electrolytes.
You may be tempted to turn to sugary sports drinks, but you will waste your time by doing so.
Coconut water has ALL of these things. It will rehydrate you and pump you full of necessary nutrients. Try a fruit juice-coconut water blend if you're new to the game.
Dried Apricots: According to ionehealth.com, dried apricots help your body "obtain potassium, iron, calcium, silicon, phosphorus, and vitamin C." Get a bag and chow down.
Melons: Most, if not all, melons are incredibly hydrating. They help fill your body with moisture and nutrients. I prefer watermelon as it seems the most hydrating, but honeydew and cantaloupe would be great alternatives.
Corn Silk Tea: Find your nearest herb store or Chinese importer and purchase corn silk tea. It will help rehydrate your body and is used for these purposes in Traditional Chinese Medicine courses.
Red meat: Although I consider myself a vegetarian, I did have a free range buffalo steak after my second bout of heat exhaustion (hey, it was the cheapest, best quality meat at the commissary!). I knew I needed protein and the best way to get an incredibly powerful shot of protein, iron, and amino acids is some meat.
Avocados: Because avocados are so good for inflammation, they are highly recommended for people with heat exhaustion. Plus, they offer healthy fats to help lubricate your muscles and insides after you were so mean to them.
This doesn't necessarily mean it's time to go to a barbecue or fiesta when you get heat exhaustion. Be sure to stay home, rest, and only eat healthy, nourishing foods.
Remember: Avoid coffee and alcoholic beverages if you've spent too much time in the sun. They can further dehydrate you and increase the severity of the heat exhaustion.
Instead, drink water, coconut water, and fresh juices.
Reminder: Many medications diminish your internal thermometer.
Thus, you become more prone to heat exhaustion than other people.
The list of medications that do this is long and broad.
I am a moderately healthy, young woman who enjoys hearty activities and being outdoors. After a few too many hours pacing Washington D.C.and a few too many docents telling us to keep our water bottles closed, I began to feel more exhausted than normal.
It turns out that 3 of my 5 medications (anti-depressants and allergy medicines) lower my body's thermal management systems.
This article has more information about how these medicines work and where to go to find out if your medicines could increase your susceptibility to heat exhaustion.
Other factors include age and health
Of course, there are many other factors that contribute to heat exhaustion including age and general physical health.
The children and elderly are at increased risk because of their age. Overweight and under-active people are also susceptible.
Take care of your body now and prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke. I'm only 24 and have had it twice. Anyone can suffer from it and it takes many lives each year.
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