Heat Exhaustion and Dehydration: What You Need to Know
Hot weather can lead to an increase in your body’s core temperature. This usually results in a higher sweat rate, leading to the loss of both fluid and electrolytes.
This is one of the many ways your body cools down. When it’s unable to do so, this can result in heat-related conditions like heat exhaustion. The loss of fluid and electrolytes, as a result, can cause mild to moderate dehydration.
Engaging in physical performance, physical labor, or endurance exercise in high heat presents even greater risks of dehydration. This can accelerate the rate at which your body loses fluids and ultimately lead to dehydration if those key electrolytes aren’t replenished.
It’s important to note that dehydration is not the only heat-related condition. Other heat-related illnesses include:
- Heat cramps
- Muscle spasms
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat rash
- Heat stroke (medical emergency)
Common symptoms of heat illnesses include dizziness, nausea/vomiting, confusion, cramps, lethargy, and headache.
Who’s at Risk of Heat Exhaustion?
Infants and children are the populations most at risk of heat-related illnesses. Because infants lack the ability to hydrate themselves, it’s often the parents who must watch out for early symptoms.
It’s important to keep infants and children cool during the summer months. Here are a few tips for keeping your infants cool this summer:
- Dress babies in light and breathable clothing. Stick with 100% cotton
- Dabs of lukewarm water can help lower your baby’s body temperature (cold water actually does the opposite)
- Keep your baby in a cool part of the house where the air circulates
- Avoid traveling with your baby when it’s hot – this causes unnecessary heat stress on the child
- Avoid heat rashes by changing your baby’s clothes more often throughout the day
The elderly population is also at risk for heat-related conditions. As we age, the body’s water content naturally decreases. The elderly also have a reduction in their thirst sense, leading to a lower consumption of fluids. This, in combination with any health conditions, medications that increase dehydration, and heat exposure, increases the individual’s risk for heat exhaustion and other heat related illnesses.
When caring for an elderly individual in the heat, here are some tips:
- Add flavoring to drinks, such as lemon, cucumber, or tonic
- Having a drink always available with a straw allows for small sips to be consumed regularly over time
- Stay in a cool area in the house or in the shade when outside
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day
Managing Dehydration Caused by Heat-Related Conditions
Recognizing and understanding the symptoms of a heat-related condition is the first step. Once you’ve identified some of the symptoms, it’s important to stop all physical activity. Your body needs adequate time to cool down and it can’t do this if you continue to overexert yourself.
The final step is to rehydrate immediately. The best way to do this is with water, or a low-sugar, sports drink alternative (electrolyte beverage) like Hydralyte (sports drinks can actually lead to more thirst due to high sugar content).
Hydralyte is the most effective rehydration solution for preventing and managing dehydration from heat exhaustion, heat exposure, and other heat-related conditions.
- Hydralyte is an electrolyte solution clinically formulated for rapid rehydration that is suitable for all ages
- Hydralyte is low in sugar and high in the electrolytes lost in sweat, which your body needs to retain the fluid you consume and help with nerve and muscle function.
- Hydralyte offers a variety of electrolyte products to help manage dehydration: