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Recognizing Heat Exhaustion and What to Do if You Overheat

If you’re really committed to your fitness routine and you find yourself exercising in the heat of summer, you need to understand the symptoms and dangers of heat exhaustion. At best, overheating your body is uncomfortable and a sure way to end your exercise routine for the day, and at worst, it can lead to death. Here’s how you can tell you’re suffering from heat exhaustion and what you should do if you develop it.

What Is Heat Exhaustion?
Put simply, heat exhaustion occurs when your body overheats, which happens easily when you combine hot weather and physical activity. It’s caused when your body loses water and electrolytes through sweating. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can develop into heat stroke, which threatens to damage the brain and even kill you. It’s important to know that heat exhaustion can sneak up on you, even if you don’t feel that you’re exerting much energy.

Understanding the Symptoms
Again, heat exhaustion is caused by sweating out the substances it needs to function, so make a note if you’re sweating more than usual. As heat exhaustion develops, a person tends to feel confused, dizzy, and nauseous, with a rapid heartbeat and pale skin. If you start feeling these symptoms, you’ll know that you’ve “hit your limit,” so to speak, and it’s time to take a break.

What to Do If You Have Heat Exhaustion
The main ways to recuperate from a heat exhaustion episode are fairly straightforward – stop exercising, move to a cooler area, and get hydrated. Taking a cold shower can help cool your body down and drinking a sports drink can help to replace the electrolytes and water that you sweat out of your body. If your symptoms are still around after an hour, it’s time to call a doctor and head to the hospital.

How to Avoid It
You can avoid heat exhaustion by, obviously, limiting your time out in the heat and not overdoing your exercises. Still, there are a few other ways you can prevent yourself from overheating your body. Make sure you’re hydrated before you start your exercise, and dress in light, breathable fabrics that’ll help keep you cool. Wearing sunscreen, too, will limit the effects of the sun’s rays on heating up your body and causing sunburn.

Keep an Eye Out for Others in Danger
You should always keep in mind that you aren’t the only person who’s susceptible to heat exhaustion. If you exercise with others, be sure to not let them overexert themselves in an effort to keep up with the pack. Also, if you’re responsible for the care of a younger person or a pet, who likely feel the heat to a greater effect and may not be capable of articulating their discomfort, stay extra mindful of their condition. Heat exhaustion affects everyone, and playing it safe will keep everyone happy.

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