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Avoiding Heat Exhaustion During Outdoor Exercise

We all know that Houston summers are inevitably full of HEAT and HUMIDITY. With several months of temperatures soaring well into the 90°s, sometimes surpassing 100°, it is vital to stay safe and hydrated during these hot summer months.

Know the Facts about Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is the most common heat-related problem and often results from over-exposure to intense heat and humidity. Lack of water and heavy physical activity in hot conditions can put you at a higher risk of developing heat exhaustion. Symptoms include:

  • Body temperature between 98.6° - 104°
  • Nausea, vomiting, or stomach cramps
  • Weakness, dizziness, intense sweating
  • Irregular breathing, pounding heartbeat, and low blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils, disorientation, or fainting

What should I do if I think someone has heat exhaustion?

If someone is exhibiting the signs of heat exhaustion, move them to a cool, shaded area and turn them on their side. If the person is awake, drench him or her in cool water; if possible wrap them in water-soaked sheets. If they are able to drink, give them cool liquids. Ice packs may be applied to the back of the neck, armpits, and groin. DO NOT give fever reducing medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lower body temperature.

If the person is unresponsive, check for breathing and a pulse. Start rescue breathing and CPR if needed and have someone call 911 immediately.

How can heat exhaustion be prevented?

When working out outdoors in the summer or in a place with very high temperatures, it is important to take protective measures. Some methods include drinking plenty of fluids (avoid caffeine), wearing light, loose, light-colored clothing and a hat or cap, eating salty snacks, and limiting strenuous activity outdoors during the hottest time of day (late A.M. to early P.M.).

Avoiding Dehydration

Dehydration, the loss of water and essential body salts due to excessive sweating, can result from inadequate consumption of fluids during physical activity. Dehydration can cause muscle cramping, poor physical performance, fatigue, and decreased coordination. To avoid dehydration:

  • Drink 8 to 16 ounces of liquid prior to exercise and 6 to 8 ounces every fifteen minutes while exercising. Continue to hydrate after working out.
  • Limit caffeine
  • For workouts longer than 90 minutes, a sports drink may be helpful to supplement hydration.

Signs of Dehydration:

  • Thirst
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Infrequent urination and/or dark or strong-smelling urine