Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How would I know if I had heat exhaustion?"
It's been really hot lately, but I work outside so I have to be in the sun, no choice. Could I get heat exhaustion? I sweat a lot when I work, but drink a lot of Gatorade and water. Will I pass out if I have heat exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion occurs when your body fails to keep itself cool enough to function properly. As the air temperature rises on those hot, humid days, your body keeps itself cool when your sweat evaporates. When sweating is not enough to keep your body stay cool, your body temperature rises, and consequently you suffer heat exhaustion and may become ill. When suffering heat exhaustion, you may experience the following symptoms: heavy sweating, dizziness, nausea, feeling weak and/or confused, headache, and fast heartbeat. It is good that you keep drinking a lot of water or other fluids every 15 to 20 minutes even though you are not thirsty to keep yourself from dehydration. Some sport drinks such as Gatorade can help replenish the salt in your body lost through excessive sweating. You should avoid caffeinated drinks (such as iced tea or sodas), which can make heat exhaustion worse. If you urinate a dark-colored urine, it is an indication that you are dehydrated. If you think you might have heat exhaustion, you need to call your primary care doctor or emergency medical personnel immediately. Feeling fainted or lightheaded is an early warning of heat exhaustion, and you can pass out. When heat exhaustion is overlooked and therefore not treated, it can progress to heat stroke which can be deadly.
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