Heat Exhaustion

If exercise continues without adequate fluid and electrolyte replacement, water and sodium depletion occurs and increasing symptoms develop. This is known as heat exhaustion. The time it takes to develop this condition depends on many factors including ambient temperature, level of exercise, relative humidity and conditioning. The time to exhaustion at 10.5°C ( 51°F) is about 93 minutes. At 30.5°C (87°F), the time is about 51 minutes (11).

In addition to the symptoms of heat cramps, headaches and lightheaded-ness are common as well as muscle cramps, a general myalgia, malaise, and irritability. As the process continues, lack of coordination, confusion, nausea, and vomiting develop. The kidneys may decrease the amount of urine they produce reaching the point of producing no urine at all. Hypotension may occur as the process continues. Some or all of these symptoms may be present, and they do not necessarily present in a given order. If recognized, fluid and electrolyte replacement can stop the process. However, if symptoms such as nausea and vomiting occur, the ability to replace fluids and sodium by mouth is lost. The person can become too confused or weak to adequately recognize the need to take fluids and sodium, compounding the problem (10).

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