|Heat Exposure and Reactions|
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First Aid - Heat Exhaustion
Types of Heat Reactions
First Aid For Heatstroke Or Sunstroke
First Aid For Heat Exhaustion
|When to Call Your Doctor|
|Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If|
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
|Parent Care at Home If|
|HOME CARE ADVICE FOR HEAT EXPOSURE|
- Heat Cramps - Reassurance:
- Heat cramps are the most common reaction to strenuous exercise and heat exposure. They are never serious. Sometimes, they can be a warning sign of impending heat exhaustion.
- The cramps occur in the muscles that were working the hardest.
- Heat cramps can be quite painful.
- Heat cramps mean that the body needs rest and more liquids and salt.
- Dizziness - Reassurance:
- Dizziness and weakness are usually caused by mild dehydration from all the sweating that occurs with heat exposure.
- Dizziness should clear in 1 to 2 hours after the lost fluids are replaced.
- Mild dehydration can also cause nausea. It should pass after drinking adequate fluids.
- Fever - Reassurance:
- The body can normally become overheated from sun exposure and/or exercise. The temperature should come down to normal after lost fluids are replaced and your child has been able to rest for 1 or 2 hours.
- NO MEDS: Fever medicines are of no value for this type of fever.
- COOL BATH: After your child drinks some liquids, encourage a cool bath or shower for 5 minutes (Reason: brings down the temperature more quickly)
- Drink Liquids to Rehydrate:
- Give a sports-rehydration drink (e.g., Gatorade), which contains sugar and salt.
- OR give water with some salty foods (e.g., potato chips or pretzels).
- Start with 2 or 3 cups (480-720 ml) for teens.
- Then give 1 cup (240 ml) every 15 minutes for the next 1-2 hours. (Teens)
- The urine color can help tell if drinking enough liquids. Dark yellow urine suggests dehydration. Clear or light yellow urine suggests drinking enough liquids.
- Food: After your child has taken 2 or 3 glasses of water, offer some salty foods (e.g., potato chips or pretzels). Don't give salt tablets (Reason: they slow down the absorption of water and may cause vomiting)
- Rest: Rest in a cool place with a fan until feeling better.
- Prevention Of Heat Reactions:
- When your child is working or exercising in a hot environment, have him or her drink large amounts of cool water to prevent dehydration. For teens, this means at least 8 ounces (240 ml) every 15 minutes. Water is the ideal solution for replacing lost sweat. Very little salt is lost.
- Special glucose-electrolyte solutions (sports drinks) offer no advantage over water unless exercising for longer than an hour. If that is the case, replace 1 water drink per hour with a sports drink.
- Have your child take water breaks every 15 minutes in the shade. Encourage him to drink some water even if he's not thirsty. Thirst can be delayed until a person is almost dehydrated.
- Avoid salt tablets, because they slow down stomach emptying and delay the absorption of fluids.
- Have your child wear a single layer of lightweight clothing. Change it if it becomes wet with perspiration.
- Physical activity in hot weather should be increased gradually.
- Athletic coaches recommend that exercise sessions be shortened and less vigorous if the temperature exceeds 82°F (28°C), especially if the humidity is high.
- Protect infants with fevers from heatstroke by not bundling them in blankets or excessive clothing. Children usually need the same number of layers of clothing as adults.
- During heat waves, spend as much time as possible in cool environments with air-conditioning. Electric fans also help. Slow down. It takes at least a week to acclimate to a hot summer temperatures.
- Prevention - Hot Tubs:
- Age limit: Avoid hot tub exposure in children less than 3 years old.
- Reason: Poor heat tolerance and risk for rapid onset of high body temperature.
- When using a hot tub, limit exposure to 15 minutes and have a "buddy" system in case a heat reaction suddenly occurs.
- Hot tubs and saunas should be avoided by people with a fever, or following vigorous exercise when the body needs to release heat.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Vomiting interferes with taking fluids
- Signs of dehydration occur
- Muscle cramps last over 4 hours
- Fainting occurs
- Fever rises above 104°F (40.0°C)
- Fever lasts over 2 hours
- Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 10/26/2011
Last Revised: 4/6/2012
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D