It's summertime, and that means long days out on the beach, sports leagues, and lots of day drinking on patios. Sounds great, right? Well, it is — but you could also be at risk for heat exhaustion because of it. If you notice these signs of heat exhaustion you should immediately start to cool the body down and get indoors, if possible. If left untreated, you could end up passing out or getting heat stroke, which can be serious and would require hospital care.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on trying new experiences and letting go, and it's super easy to do this in the summer when there's a plethora of fun, social events going on. Yet, it's equally important to be mindful of overheating and taking care of your body when out in the sun. That means sunblock, hydration (good ol' water), summer hats, A/C breaks, and frequent snacking to keep blood sugar levels steady. If you neglect any of these habits, are simply out too long, or are working out at too high an intensity in the heat, you could be setting yourself up for disaster. Here, a few signs that you might have heat exhaustion and should seriously seek medical attention.
1. A Really Bad Headache
Sure, you might get headaches from time to time, but if you're out in the heat and you get a pounder, it could be related to heat exhaustion, explains Minisha Sood, MD, FACE to Bustle, over email. If your head pain doesn't subside, it could lead to heat stroke, so head indoors or dab a cold towel on your forehead to see if it stops.
2. Flushed Skin
Sood also cautions against flushed skin, which can happen when the body is overheated (at temperatures around 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher). If this happens, "expose the person to cool water (i.e. especially in the neck, underarm and groin areas by using a hose, water-misting fan, ice packs, cold/wet towels or a tub of cool water)," Sood says.
3. Nausea & Vomiting
Sood cautions against nausea and vomiting, which can happen when the body is taking on too high of temperatures and is unable to sweat and cool it off by way of natural processes (which happens during heat exhaustion and stroke). If you're feeling nauseated or are vomiting, sit down somewhere cool and rehydrate with fluids, says Sood. No alcohol or sugary drinks, though, as they're dehydrating.
4. Lightheadedness & Fainting
According to Dr. Allen Towfigh, MD, a sleep medicine expert and neurologist at the Weill Cornell Medical Center at NY Presbyterian Hospital in NYC, over email with Bustle, you might get lightheaded and faint when the body is overheating. If you pass out, it could mean you've passed heat exhaustion and are approaching stroke, so be very attentive when noticing symptoms of lightheadedness first.
5. Muscle Weakness
Towfigh also cautions against muscle weakness, which can also happen when the body is going through heat exhaustion. If you notice your knees and joints begin to give out, or you feel very low in energy (perhaps even unable to get up), it could mean you're at risk for heat stroke.
6. Blurred Vision
It's not just your legs and actual body parts that get affected; in fact, your eyes can get blurry, or tunnel vision, says Towfigh. If you notice your vision getting fuzzy, it is a clear sign of heat exhaustion (and it's pretty scary). Immediately go indoors and cool off, and drink plenty of water to get back some fluids.
7. Extra Fast Heart Rate
According to Tom Schmicker MD, MS, an orthopedic surgery resident at the Joan C Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University, over email with Bustle, if your heart rate is crazy fast, it could mean your body is overheated. What's more, if it's accompanied by lethargy and a confused mental state, Schmicker adds, it's definitely related to heat exhaustion. If this happens, put cold water on the body to cool it down.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it could mean you're suffering from heat exhaustion. If left untreated, it could turn into heat stroke, which can be fatal under severe conditions. So, book it inside.