Heat Exhaustion

Heat Exhaustion

Overview

What Is Heat Exhaustion?

When your body temperature goes up, sweating helps release heat so you can cool down. Heat exhaustion happens when you’re not able to get rid of the extra heat, which can make you sick.

Heat exhaustion comes on suddenly and requires immediate care. The good news is that Aurora Health Care sports medicine experts are frequently on hand to help, since our physical therapists and athletic trainers attend practices and games of sports teams throughout eastern Wisconsin.

Our deep experience in caring for active people also helps us recognize situations that require care in one of our urgent care clinics or emergency rooms. We make recommendations right on the spot so you can get the care you need without delay.

The Aurora Difference

Expert Care for Heat Exhaustion

Aurora sports medicine experts care for active people, student-athletes and professional athletes from all over eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Our regular participation in community sporting events means we stand ready to care for anyone suffering from heat exhaustion.

Highlights of our program include:

  • A reputation you can trust: Aurora is the official sports medicine provider to a number of professional athletic teams, including the Milwaukee Admirals hockey team. Top coaches trust our athletic trainers and physical therapists to protect their teams from heat exhaustion and keep them safe during games. When you choose us, you can expect the same high level of care. Read more about team medical coverage.
  • Expertise: Our sports medicine experts treat a high volume of athletes and active people, which helps them deliver exceptional care based on experience. They know how to spot the early signs of heat exhaustion so you can avoid more serious heat-related conditions, like heat stroke. Meet our sports health team.
  • Convenient follow-up care: After recovering from heat exhaustion, you may be sensitive to heat for a few days. A follow-up visit with your primary care doctor can help you stay safe as you recover. And to make it easy for you, our clinics are conveniently located in communities across eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Find a location.

Symptoms

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Not consuming enough fluids (dehydration) is the primary cause of heat exhaustion. Another factor is the weather: Hot, humid conditions and direct sun exposure make it more difficult for your body to cool itself.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting

Diagnosis

Diagnosing Heat Exhaustion

There are no diagnostic tests for heat exhaustion. We diagnose the condition based on your symptoms and the current weather conditions. For instance, if you’ve been exercising in 90-degree heat and high humidity and suddenly feel faint, you likely have heat exhaustion.

To determine whether it is heat exhaustion or something more serious, like heat stroke, we perform a simple physical exam that includes:

  • Feeling your skin: Damp or sweaty skin is a sign of heat exhaustion, while skin that is hot to the touch is a sign of heat stroke.
  • Checking your temperature: A temperature of up to 104°F could be a sign of heat exhaustion. Anything higher could be heat stroke.
  • Asking you about your medical history: We use this information to rule out conditions that may seem similar to heat exhaustion, like low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Treatment

Treating Heat Exhaustion

If you’re experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion, it's important to get help right away. Often, it’s best to seek immediate care in an urgent care clinic or emergency room, but you can also try simple treatments to bring your temperature down.

Helpful treatments include:

  • Sipping water
  • Sitting or lying down in a shaded or air-conditioned area
  • Taking off unnecessary clothing, including hats and extra shirts
  • Cooling off by taking a cool shower or placing wet towels on your body

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