A condition where heavy sweating has caused a loss of fluids, affecting circulation.
Signs of dehydration may appear in heat exhaustion, such as a headache, dizziness, and blurred vision. Signs of shock may appear where there is a either pooling of blood in dilated blood vessels in the extremities or not enough fluid in circulation.
Signs of shock include cold clammy skin, shallow breathing, a fast pulse, dilated pupils, unconsciousness, and vomiting. A lack of electrolytes (salts) may cause cramps. Because heat exhaustion affects circulation to vital organs, such as the brain and heart, it is vital to find emergency medical attention, move the person out of the heat, treat the person for shock by lying in a feet up position to move more blood out of the legs and towards the heart and brain, and to replace water and salts.
Heat exhaustion is less severe than heat stroke. In heat stroke, the person has lost so much water, usually through a combination of dehydration, sweating and sun exposure, that the body is unable to regulate temperature. This is a life-threatening situation since sweating stops and the body temperature rises quickly. Here it is vital to move the person out of the heat, cool them down, and seek emergency medical attention immediately.
The human body generally regulates its temperature very well. However, when the body cannot manage extreme heat, problems result. Extreme heat can occur both indoors and outdoors, but problems can occur even if the heat is not extreme. The way a person responds to heat is affected by humidity, wind, clothing, the living and working environment, physical activity, age, and personal health.
Treating Heat Exhaustion
Minor: Heat exhaustion is not a minor condition. Use first aid and emergency treatment with homeopathic medicines.
Serious: Heat stroke where the skin is hot and dry. Heat stroke is a dangerous and life-threatening condition because the body is unable to regulate temperature, sweating stops, and the body temperature increases quickly. Loss of consciousness.
Caution: For cases of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, call for emergency medical help immediately.
Move the person into a shady cool place
If the person is conscious:
Treat the person for shock by lying in a feet-up position to get more blood out of the legs and towards the heart and brain.
Have the person sip on salt water with 1 tsp (5ml) salt mixed in 1 liter or quart of water. Make sure the amount of salt is not more than this as it will make the person sick. Give as much fluid as the person will take until emergency help arrives.
If the person is unconscious:
Lie the person down on their side and pull top knee over (recovery position). Elevate the feet.
Stay with the person until emergency help arrives and monitor breathing, pulse, and other symptoms.
Secondary Treatment – Homeopathic Treatment
The remedies listed below are some of the most commonly used for heat exhaustion. There may be others.
Homeopathic Bryonia alba (Wild Hops)
Quality: heat exhaustion or heatstroke. There is a severe headache and may be nausea.
Generally: the person may feel very thirsty.
Mental-Emotional: the person is irritable.
Better: the headache is better from rest and applying something cold.
Worse: the pain is worse with the slightest motion.
Homeopathic Glonoin (Nitro-glycerine)
Quality: heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The headache is throbbing or pulsating. The face is hot and the skin is sweaty.
Mental-Emotional: the person is confused and irritable.
Homeopathic Belladonna (Nightshade)
Quality: heat exhaustion or heat stroke that comes on suddenly. The person has a throbbing headache, the skin is hot and dry.
General: the person has a red flushed face with dilated pupils.
Mental-Emotional: in heat exhaustion or heatstroke, the person may be delirious, have hallucinations, or lose consciousness.
A well-chosen homeopathic constitutional remedy that considers the person holistically, that is, not only the physical symptoms, but their mental and emotional states as well, will be very beneficial to anyone suffering from heat exhaustion, because it is the most individualized medicine you can get. Just think, out of more than 4,000 different remedies there will only be a handful or two that will be suited to the individual. This is precisely the reason why we have good results in homeopathic treatment. A remedy that resonates well with a person’s energy has the power to effectively support the body in its efforts to heal itself.
Please feel free to call the clinic to book an appointment or to come in for a free 15 minute information session. We would be happy to answer your questions.
Preventing Heat Exhaustion
Most heat emergencies can be prevented with common sense and these guidelines:
- Avoid being outdoors in the hottest part of the day. if you must work out doors in hot weather, plan your activity for the early morning and evening hours when the sun is not as strong
- Slow down your activities as it gets hotter, and work or exercise in brief periods.
- Take frequent breaks in a cool or shaded area to let your body cool off so it can withstand brief periods of heat exposure.
- Dress for the heat and your activity level. Wear a hat when in the sun and light-coloured cotton clothing to absorb sweat and let air circulate and heat escape.
- Drink plenty of fluids – this is the most important action you can take to prevent heat emergencies. Drink cool fluids and avoid caffiene and alcohol, which make the body’s temperature-regulating mechanisms less efficient.
Irene Schwens, C. Tran., DHMHS
Owner and Homeopath