Heat Stroke & Exhaustion: Prevention, Symptoms, and Treatment

When you push your­self to new lim­its out­doors, it’s wise to remem­ber that as hard as we try, we’re not super­hu­man, and our bod­ies are sus­cep­ti­ble to our sur­round­ings. One com­mon exam­ple, seen by pros and newbs alike, is heat exhaus­tion. We’ve all been there, drained by the sun and humid­i­ty, and it’s not a fun feel­ing, and even more seri­ous­ly, it can lead to heat stroke. So here for you today, to keep cool this sum­mer, is a quick break­down on the pre­ven­tion, symp­toms, and treat­ment for heat stroke and exhaustion.


Because the best med­i­cine is prevention.

Watch the Heat Index 
The com­bi­na­tion of heat and humid­i­ty cre­ate the index. Know your area and know that the high­er the humid­i­ty, the more sus­cep­ti­ble you are to heat stroke and exhaustion.

Stay Inside
Not near­ly as much fun, sure, but try and stay inside or some­where cool in the after­noons on hot days. Get your out­door exer­cise fill ear­ly in the morn­ing or late in the evening when­ev­er possible.

Stay Hydrat­ed
Make sure you not only bring plen­ty of water when you ven­ture out but drink water con­sis­tent­ly before and after your exer­cise. Throw some elec­trolyte sports drinks in the mix to replen­ish essen­tial sodi­um loss.

Avoid the Burns
Using sun­screen, hav­ing your skin cov­ered, and wear­ing a large brimmed hat—all of these can help keep your body tem­per­a­ture from exceed­ing healthy limits.

Prop­er Clothing
Avoid any tight-fit­ting, dark, or heavy cloth­ing in hot con­di­tions. While you want to keep your skin cov­ered to pre­vent burns, make sure the fab­ric is light and prefer­ably light colored.

Know Your Limits
Although the cleans­ing sweat induced by high tem­per­a­tures can at times be appeal­ing, know and under­stand your lim­its and avoid push­ing your­self that extra step in extreme­ly high temperatures.


Altered Men­tal State
Drowsi­ness, fatigue, con­fu­sion, and dizzi­ness. If you feel any of these altered men­tal states, your body is like­ly react­ing to the heat.

Dark or Yel­low Urine
The Ole’ Urine Test. You’re aim­ing for a light yel­low, near­ly clear urine for prop­er hydration.

Mus­cle Cramps
This has to do with the lack of sodi­um (salt) in your sys­tem, caus­ing your mus­cles not to work as you want them to. Grab the sports drink mix for mus­cle cramps.

Feel­ing sick to your stom­ach? It might not have been grandma’s pota­to sal­ad after all.

Pale Skin and Pro­fuse Sweating
A lighter skin, cou­pled with pro­fuse sweat­ing, can be an indi­ca­tion for heat exhaustion.

Rapid Heart­beat
Like a car over­heat­ing, your body might go into over­drive to cope with the heat.

Heat Stroke Symp­toms and Emer­gency Response

wandererAn impor­tant note to the symp­toms above is that heat exhaus­tion, although uncom­fort­able, does not need an imme­di­ate pro­fes­sion­al med­ical response. How­ev­er, if the symp­toms last for longer than 30 min­utes after begin­ning the cool­ing down process, or the symp­toms are more severe and aren’t show­ing signs of progress, the body may be tak­ing the next, more seri­ous step: heat stroke.

Addi­tion­al Heat Stroke Symp­toms: Faint­ing, Throb­bing Headache, Lack of Sweat­ing, Red, Hot, Dry Skin, Shal­low Breath­ing, Seizures & Unconsciousness.


Whether it’s heat exhaus­tion or poten­tial heat stroke, the treat­ment can be the same. After decid­ing whether med­ical pro­fes­sion­als need to get involved, the main goal in treat­ing either heat stroke or exhaus­tion is cool­ing the body down.

Find a nice spot in the shade, by water, or in air con­di­tion­ing to let your body cool down.

Remove Cloth­ing
Keep your skin out of direct sun­light, but remove any cloth­ing that may be restric­tive to blood flow.

Drink Flu­ids
A chug­ging con­test is not the best way to intro­duce flu­id to your body, but do make sure you are drink­ing plen­ty of flu­ids at a com­fort­able, even pace.

Get in Water
Tak­ing a show­er or bath, or spong­ing off in the riv­er, will help your body reach a nor­mal temperature.

Fan­ning and Ice Towels
If you are going to use a fan, prefer­ably have a method to keep your skin wet as well. The fans will keep the mois­ture flow­ing on your skin, recharg­ing your bat­tery as you cool down.