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Updated 03 November 2015

First aid for heat exhaustion

Being exposed to heat for a long time could put you at risk of developing a heat-related illness. Here's how to recognise and treat one such condition.

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Heat exhaustion is a condition where a person who has stopped exercising on a hot day, suddenly becomes listless, weak and dizzy.

The person has a rapid pulse and may complain of headaches, nausea and vomiting. Unlike heatstroke, the body core temperature rises to over 38 degrees Celsius, but never exceeds 40 degrees Celsius, and mental status and behaviour are normal.

Heat exhaustion occurs when there is an excessive drop in blood pressure due to the pooling of blood in the lower limbs, following exercise. Despite its name, heat exhaustion is not directly related to heat and is no longer considered as the first step towards the development of heatstroke.

Home treatment

  • Lay the person on his back and elevate his legs and pelvis.
  • Give fluids to drink if you suspect that the person is also dehydrated.

Recovery is usually rapid. However, in severe cases, the person may need to be hospitalised. In almost all cases there is no need for intravenous fluid.

Read more:

Don't overheat in high temperatures

Managing insect bites and stings

Your complete first aid guide

 
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