Heat exhaustion is excessive fluid loss due to sweating resulting in depletion of electrolytes and depletion of body fluid volume which creates symptoms and if not treated can lead to heat stroke.
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms
- Muscle aches especially in extremities, nausea,and headache.
- Rapid heart rate ( tachycardia)
- Body temperature around 100 to 102 F.
- No neurological symptoms this is important as neurological changes are indicative of the more severe heat stroke.
Heat Exhaustion Treatment
- Stop all exertion and move the fellow outdoorsman to the shade.
- Place them in a Trendelenberg position which is feet up above heart to promote venous blood to the heart and increase cardiac output.
- Remove restrictive clothing
- Begin to hydrate and replace electrolyte. If possible 1/4 teaspoon of table salt in a quart of water. Also diluted Gatorade is beneficial or Powerade. Try to have them drink two 16 ounces of fluid every hour till symptoms resolve or improve. In the outdoors you will need to disinfect water quickly, boil, tablets or tablets as discussed in water disinfection.
- If possible use ice to cool their body. This is usually next to impossible in the outdoors unless someone is carrying a backpack type cooler. Do not put ice directly on the skin. If there is no ice use cool water soaked cloth, shirts, pants etc possibly from a stream or lake. Place them in the arm pits, groin, and neck and you can fan the areas which should aid in cooling.
When reaching an urgent care or Emergency Department they will be checking enzymes ie: liver enzymes, sodium, potassium and others as well as urine wanting to make sure there has been no muscle destruction.