Heat Exhaustion


Treatment for heat exhaustion should begin immediately when a person is suspected of having heat exhaustion, and the primary treatment is evaporative cooling and removing the person from the hot environment.

  • The person should be placed in the shade or in a cool building while awaiting transport to a medical facility.
  • Have the individual lie down, with their legs elevated above the level of the heart.
  • Remove any restrictive clothing the person is wearing if it inhibits evaporative cooling.
  • Cooling can be aided by misting the skin with cool water and then circulating air with fans in order to increase evaporative cooling (a cool water shower may also help, if available).
  • Provide the person with refrigerated drinks such as Gatorade or other sports drinks.
  • Additionally, intravenous fluids may be given by medical personnel to treat dehydration.

Heat exhaustion is a condition that occurs when the body overheats.Heat exhaustion is caused by the failure of the body’s cooling mechanism to maintain a normal core temperature.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include

  • weakness,
  • muscle cramping,
  • heavy sweating,
  • a headache,
  • dizziness,
  • fainting,
  • nausea and/or vomiting,
  • a rapid pulse,
  • thirst, and
  • clammy skin.

What Causes Heat Exhaustion?

The main cause of heat exhaustion is the failure of the body’s cooling mechanism (mainly evaporative sweating) to maintain a normal core body temperature, resulting in the body overheating. This can occur in adults, children, and animals (dogs and cats, for example). Factors that can contribute to heat exhaustion include

  • strenuous work or exercise in a warm or hot environment,
  • dehydration,
  • alcohol intake, and
  • wearing clothing that inhibits evaporative cooling of the body.

The elderly and children under 5 years of age are at higher risk for developing heat exhaustion.