What is heat exhaustion?

What is heat exhaustion?

On hot summer days, staying hydrated and protected from the sun is key. Too much time in the sun and heat can have serious health consequences.

“People of all ages are at risk of dehydration and heat illness, but it’s important that parents monitor children when they are spending time outdoors because kids won’t always recognize what they’re experiencing,” explains Dr. Jennifer Wooden, a pediatrician with Aurora Children’s Health in Lake Geneva, Wis. “They often need to be reminded to take breaks, drink water and get out of the sun.”

Heat exhaustion is a serious condition caused by the body overheating.


“Signs of heat exhaustion include weakness, decreased coordination, light-headedness, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, profuse sweating or paleness in the face,” says Dr. Wooden. “Children of any age can suffer from heat exhaustion if they are dehydrated, which is caused by inadequate rest and prolonged time spent in direct sunlight and hot temperatures. Parents need to keep in mind that small children may not be able to verbalize their symptoms and may simply appear more tired or fatigued.”

Treatment and prevention

When caught early, heat exhaustion can be treated at home by resting in a cool place, raising the legs above the heart, lowering internal body temperature through a cool shower or bath and rehydrating. Dr. Wooden says while knowing how to treat heat exhaustion is important, preventing it is critical.

“Avoid strenuous activity outdoors on days with high heat and humidity, and stay in the shade as much as possible. Hydration is also important, but in high humidity, sweat doesn’t evaporate as well, which is one of the main ways the body cools itself. It’s important to be aware of the fact that heat exhaustion is a risk in high-humidity conditions and to take measures to prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion,” says Dr. Wooden.

Are you trying to find a doctor? Look here if you live in Illinois. Look here if you live in Wisconsin. 

Related Posts


Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.