Summer is about soaking up all the sunshine and Vitamin D you can get before winter comes back with a seemingly never-ending vengeance. While you've already planned your beach trips and outdoor picnics, it's important to remember that there is such a thing as too much sun. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke — which is the more severe and life-threatening progression of heat exhaustion — are very real medical conditions that can put a serious damper on summer fun.
"Exertional heat illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, occur when the body faces an inability to remove heat more quickly than it is generated, such as during periods of strenuous exercise, especially in hot and humid environments," Dr. Gary Asher, the director of Integrative Medicine Services at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, explains to Bustle. He adds that while heat stroke is more common in elderly people, "anybody, under the right circumstances, is susceptible to heat illness," which can be dangerous or even fatal.
For younger people, heat exhaustion may not be brought on just by lying directly in the sun, but there are other circumstances that can trigger this medical condition. For example, even if you live a healthy lifestyle, exercising or working in the heat can quickly trigger heat stroke. Not to mention, while skimping on your air conditioning can help you save money during the summer, being stuck in a hot, stuffy apartment could also cause heat exhaustion.
Dr. Asher says people experiencing heat exhaustion can typically treat it at home without the help of medical professionals, and should "find a cool environment to rest, drink cool liquids, and apply cool towels or take a cool shower to help remove excess body heat." He explains that if heat exhaustion turns into heat stroke, it'll be marked by "the presence of higher body temperatures greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and the presence of neurologic symptoms such as slurred speech, poor gait or coordination, or inappropriate behavior." If any of these symptoms are present, it's time to seek emergency medical care because heat stroke can be life-threatening."
If you plan on spending your summer outdoors, or even if you'll be inside a hot apartment, catching heat exhaustion before it progresses to heat stroke may save you a trip to the emergency room — though, if your symptoms don't abate after a few hours, it's important to see a doctor as soon as you can. These are eight signs of heat exhaustion in young people that you should be aware of.