Professor Kazem Fathie, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.I.C.S.,Ph.D.

The extent to which various body systems can adapt to a hot climate or hot working conditions, exposure to alternately high and low temperature extremes and conditions of high and low humidity is apparently related to an individual’s ability to avoid heat illnesses. This systemic adaptation varies among individuals. Drinking adequate amounts of water and increasing the intake of salt are two preventive measures that may help to avoid heat illness, particularly in the case of heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Restriction of activity, good ventilation and movement of air by fans and air conditioning, moderate eating habits, and the wearing of loose and light colored clothing in hot, sunny weather can help lower the incidence of heat reactions.

Heat exhaustion usually can be remedied by rest in an air or conditioned room or shaded area. Symptoms of heat exhaustion usually are depicted by a normal body temperature, cold, clammy and pale skin, extreme fatigue, occasional fainting spells, dizziness and headaches.

Treatment of heat exhaustion begins by instructing the instructing the afflicted party to lie down and raise their feet and legs 8 to 12 inches (20-30 cm.) higher than head level. Cold towels be applied to the victim’s head, carefully doing so to avoid chills.

Cool, diluted salt water should be administered to the person. Use one teaspoon of salt (5 grams) to one 8 ounce glass of water. Give sips at the rate of one-half glass every 15 minutes for one hour to the victim. As an alternative, orange juice can be very helpful.

Discontinue the consumption of fluids should the person become nauseated. Immediately transport the patient to the nearest hospital emergency facility. Heat stroke can threaten the life of those affected. Weakened condition, nausea, irritableness or a dazed appearance are all symptoms of a person afflicted with beat stroke. A loss of consciousness may accompany this condition when the victim’s temperature rapidly rises as high as 100 degrees F (40.5 degrees C).

Using a common garden hose, cool the victim as rapidly as you can after moving them into a shaded area. Pour buckets of cold water on the individual if no hose is available. Another alternative is to wrap the person’s body in a cold, wet sheet and the head in cold, wet towels.

Cooling the suffering individual is the first step toward recovery. However, phone for an ambulance to transport the patient to the nearest hospital emergency unit as rapidly as possible.