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Subtle Signs You’re Experiencing Heat Exhaustion

Subtle Signs You're Experiencing Heat Exhaustion

Between a deadly heat wave in Europe, record-breaking temperatures in the United Kingdom and heat advisories throughout the United States, it’s been a dangerously hot summer throughout much of the world.

High temperatures can be unsafe for a number of reasons: Intense heat can lead to dehydration, sunburn, heat rash and serious issues such as heat exhaustion.

In short, heat exhaustion is your body telling you you’re overheating, said Dr. Sindhu Aderson, medical director of Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care in Illinois. “Heat exhaustion is essentially when your body’s temperature [reaches] elevated rates,” she said. And this is caused by the high temperature of the air around you.

But how do you know if you or a loved one is suffering from heat exhaustion? Here, experts share what to look out for the next time you’re out on a hot day.

You’re at risk for heat exhaustion in hot and humid climates.

Behind heatstroke, “heat exhaustion is the second most dangerous heat-related illness that occurs when people are exposed to hot environments,” said Dr. Lancer Scott, a professor in the department of emergency medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina.

You’re at high risk of heat exhaustion on days when the heat index (which is what the air temperature feels like when combined with humidity) is above 100, Scott added, noting that this is a more common occurrence in Southern states.

Before going outside on a hot day, be sure to check the heat index in your area on the National Weather Service’s website.

You’re also at higher risk if you’re taking part in strenuous outdoor activities.

Aderson added that heat exhaustion is particularly common among people who are doing strenuous outdoor activities on a hot day— things like running a race or taking a workout class.

You want to limit your time exercising or working in the heat,” she said. “Take frequent breaks.”

If you are someone who has to work outdoors, it may not be possible to just tell your boss “No, I’m not working outside today.” If that’s the case, remember that you do have rights when it comes to working in dangerously hot conditions.

You can team up with co-workers to demand things like more breaks or access to shade, or you can find out your rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. There are some built-in protections available to you: OSHA will issue citations for safety violations and advocate for people if they…

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