Watch Out For The Heat
Our body regularly relies on adequate water consumption and the use of electrolytes to properly function. Sometimes we can lose too much water and have a drastic decrease in electrolytes due to over-exposure to heat and not replenishing by drinking water or during physical exercise that is strenuous and we sweat a lot and are not replenishing our water supply in our body. When we are not replenished, there are several things that can happen to our body and can potentially be very dangerous.
One thing that can happen is called heat cramps. Defined by the Mayo Clinic, heat cramps are the result of fluid and electrolyte loss during strenuous exercise in a heated environment. When this happens, the muscles involuntarily spasm and can lock up which can be quite painful. The muscles that are most commonly affected are our calves, abdominal wall and back, arms, and any other muscle groups that have been focused on during a workout. ("Heat cramps: First aid - Mayo Clinic," n.d.) There are several symptoms to look out for if you suspect that you are developing heat cramps. According to the University of Connecticut, you should be aware if you are experiencing dehydration, excessive sweating, excessive thirst, transient muscle cramps, fatigue, painful and involuntary muscle spasms, and muscle twitches or fasciculations. ("Heat Cramps | Korey Stringer Institute," n.d.)
Heat exhaustion is another event that can happen when our body becomes over heated and we are not replenishing our fluid loss by drinking water. The University of Maryland Medical Center defines heat exhaustion as the event where the body gets too hot and it affects our inner core temperature and we cannot naturally cool down by sweating. Our body has heated up too much that it cannot release enough of the heat produced. This is caused by the over working of the hypothalamus part of our brain which not only controls thirst and hunger, but also helps maintain our core body temperature. Symptoms of heat exhaustion to look out for include sweating, fatigue, headache, pale and clammy skin, thirst, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, a mild elevated temperature, and a feeling of weakness. ("Heat exhaustion | University of Maryland Medical Center," n.d.)
Another heat emergency that people can experience when they are dehydrated and overheated is suffering from a heat stroke. Heat stroke can occur when the body is over exposed to heat and is dehydrated. The body reaches a core temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. According to Medline Plus, when this happens an individual can show symptoms of irrational behavior, extreme confusion, skin that is dry, red, and hot to the touch, rapid or shallow breathing, a rapid weak pulse, seizures, and loss of consciousness. In the event of someone suffering from heat stroke, always call 911 immediately and have the person lie down in a cool place and elevate their feet. ("Heat emergencies: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia," n.d.)
As you can see, there are several heat emergencies that can occur when we are not paying attention to the exertion we put on our body and the signs our body is giving us to remind us to replenish our fluids and to take a break to cool off. Many athletes and people who work outdoors are at high risk from experiencing heat emergencies so it is always vital to make sure you have plenty of water on hand and to take breaks in a cool or shaded area so you do not over heat yourself.
Heat Cramps | Korey Stringer Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ksi.uconn.edu/emergency-conditions/heat-illnesses/heat-cramps/
Heat cramps: First aid - Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-heat-cramps/basics/art-20056669
Heat emergencies: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000056.htm
Heat exhaustion | University of Maryland Medical Center. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/heat-exhaustion