Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are at a risk of occurring during summer in Nigeria and many other African countries where there is always an increase in temperature to as high as 55 °C (131 °F). Such environmental temperature combined with high humidity can cause you to experience heat exhaustion, especially during a strenuous physical activity.

Heat exhaustion: during heat exhaustion, the body’s temperature is rising. The rise in the body temperature gives off signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion. It  may occur suddenly or over time depending on the degree of exposure to high temperatures. Heat exhaustion can be managed and is not as serious as heat stroke.

Heat stroke develops over time when there is a dramatic increase in the body temperature usually after a long period of heat exhaustion when the body is unable to cool itself. Heat stroke is a sign of extreme elevated body temperature.

Causes of heat exhaustion

Because your body needs to maintain optimal internal temperature which averagely is 37C or 98.6F, it regulates the heat gain in hot weather and heat loss in cold weathers.

Some causes of heat exhaustion includes;

  • Exposure to hot and extreme temperature
  • Dehydration
  • Strenuous physical activity such as exercise

Signs of heat exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Headache
  • Excessive thirst
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Increased rate of heartbeat

Treatment of heat exhaustion

If you or anyone else is experiencing the above symptoms of heat exhaustion, find a cool place to lay down and rest. You can also take plenty of cold drinks or water preferable, intermittently to help the body relax and cool down. Place ice packs on forehead and stomach region  but if signs and symptoms persist after 10 minutes, please see the doctor to avoid complications of heat stroke.

Causes of heat stroke

Heat stroke is a heat related illness, as a result of the progression of heat exhaustion that happens if heat exhaustion is not properly taken care of and can cause damage to the brain, organs in the body, and even death. Causes of heat stroke includes;

  • Engaging in excess vigorous physical activity during hot weathers
  • Improper management of heat exhaustion
  • Extreme dehydration

Signs of heat stroke

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sweating profusely
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion and agitation
  • Death
  • Coma

Treatment of heat stroke

For a person experiencing heat stroke, an emergency visit to the doctor is required.

Prevention of heat exhaustion or heat stroke

Heat exhaustion or stroke can be prevented. Some ways to prevent heat exhaustion includes;

  • Stay in a well ventilated and cool room
  • Try to apply ice or a cold-wet towel on your forehead when you fell hot
  • Be adequately hydrated by taking plenty of water, preferably a cold water whenever you feel hot to prevent dehydration
  • Put on a light loose clothing during hot weathers
  • Take a cool bath intermittently during prolonged heat waves
  • Avoid vigorous exercises and if you have to exercise, do so moderately and make sure you are continually hydrated.
  • Avoid taking carbonated drinks or alcohol that might cause dehydration

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