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Heat Exhaustion (cont.)

What Is the Treatment for Heat Exhaustion?

Patient Comments

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 in Children

Patient Comments

Heat exhaustion in children occurs for the same reasons (causes) listed previously for adults, but children are more susceptible to dehydration. Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include:

  • fatigue,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • dehydration,
  • headache,
  • clammy skin,
  • rapid breathing, and
  • irritability.

Treatment of heat exhaustion in children is similar to that of adults.

  • Put the child in the shade or and air conditioned building
  • Loosen or remove tight or excessive clothing
  • Cool the child with evaporative cooling (mist skin with cool water and use fans) or give the child a cool (not cold) bath
  • Encourage Pedialyte or a sports drink
  • Seek medical care

If the child's body temperature reaches 105 F/40.5 C or above, or any other symptoms of heat stroke develop (such as the absence of sweating, seizures, lethargy or loss of consciousness), call 911 immediately. As in adults, untreated heat exhaustion in children may quickly progress to heat stroke and potentially death.

Heat Exhaustion in Dogs and Other Animals

Animals with fur coats can overheat quickly in hot environments. Symptoms may vary according to the type of animal, so it is recommended that you consult with your animal's veterinarian about heat exhaustion.

Though this article is not designed to cover animal heat exhaustion in depth, the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion in dogs, for example, may include weakness and excessive panting. As with humans, the dog's core temperature may be elevated.

Animals that show signs of heat exhaustion should be treated in the same way as humans (see above). For dogs (and cats), massage of the legs will help circulation and increase body cooling.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/10/2016
Medical Editor:

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