Congratulations on anyone who took part in the Marathon this year; it’s inspiring!
Although the weather wasn’t as hot as in previous years; it may be a timely reminder on how to treat heat exhaustion. 2007 saw the hottest marathon on record with temperatures reaching 20.7 degrees. It was estimated that over 5000 people had to receive first aid treatment on the day; many of those heat related – and not just the ones dressed in a rhino suit either.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are two potentially serious conditions that can occur if you get too hot.
- Heat exhaustion is where you become very hot, lose water or salt from your body which leads to the symptoms shown below.
- Heatstroke is where the body is no longer able to cool itself and a person’s body temperature becomes dangerously high (sunstroke is when this is caused by prolonged exposure to direct sunlight). Its as if your very own thermostat has stopped working.
Heatstroke is less common, but more serious. It can put a strain on the brain, heart, lungs, liver and kidneys, and can also be life-threatening.
If Heat Exhaustion isn’t spotted and treated early on, there is a risk it could lead to heatstroke.
Signs and symptoms
Heat exhaustion can develop quickly over a few minutes, or gradually over several hours or days.
Signs of heat exhaustion can include:
- tiredness and weakness
- feeling faint or dizzy
- decrease in blood pressure
- muscle cramps
- feeling and being sick
- heavy sweating
- intense thirst
- a fast pulse
- urinating less often and having much darker urine than usual
*Most of those symptoms occur on the marathon, so may be a little tricky to notice
If not treated, then more severe symptoms of heatstroke can develop, including confusion, disorientation, seizures and a loss of unconsciousness.
Treatment for heat exhaustion
If you notice that someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, you should:
Lie them down in a cooler place – a room with air conditioning or somewhere in the shade
Remove any unnecessary clothing to ideally expose as much of their skin as possible
Cool the skin –use whatever you have available, cool, wet sponge or flannels, cold packs around the neck and armpits, or wrap them in a cool, wet sheet
Fan the skin while moist – this will help the water to evaporate, which will help their skin cool down
Get them to drink fluids – this should ideally be water, fruit juice or a rehydration drink, such as a sports drink
Treatment for Heat Stroke:
Move the casualty to a cool shaded area
Cool the casualty rapidly with any method you can (cold, wet sheets, cool shower, garden hose)
Call 999/112 for emergency help
Stay with the person until they’re feeling better. Most people should hopefully start to recover within 30 minutes.
Prevent the onset by staying hydrated, avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks.
Wear a hat and stay out of the direct sun during the hottest part of the day.