Signs of Heat-related Illness & How Extreme Heat Disrupts Your Electrolyte Balance by 30Seconds Health

Family Health
6 years ago

Signs of Heat-related Illness & How Extreme Heat Disrupts Your Electrolyte Balance

How hot is too hot? You might not realize it, but you have a maximum operating temperature. When you heat up, your body has ways to keep you at a temperature where your enzymes work optimally, says Dr. Jaiva Larsen, Banner University Medical Center Tucson emergency medicine physician and medical toxicology fellow. Enzymes are proteins that speed up specific chemical reactions in the body.

To help keep you cool, you begin to perspire and your blood vessels dilate. But if you begin to overheat, you can become dehydrated from all that sweating, or your electrolyte balance can be disrupted because you've taken in too much water and not enough salt. That, in turn, can lead to seizures and other serious problems, Dr. Larsen says. When it comes to heat-related illness, Dr. Larsen says she most often treats people who:

  • have been exercising in the heat
  • those who are in vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, the elderly and infants
  • those on certain medications
  • those who have been using street drugs or alcohol, both of which make them more vulnerable to heat-related illness

Signs of heat-related illness include:

  • dizziness
  • light-headedness
  • confusion
  • slurred speech
  • weakness

If these signs arise, it's important to seek medical attention quickly, Dr. Larsen says.

The information on is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information provided through this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal health care provider.

Donna John
My husband had a heat-related scare a couple weeks ago. Had to call 911. It's so important to learn about heat-related illnesses, especially if you live in a hot area. The paramedics told us that drinking water can actually hurt you, just like Dr. Larson mentions, because you flush out what salts you do have left. It's important to take frequent breaks if you're out in the heat for long periods of time - preferably inside, out of the sun.
Elisa Schmitz
This is so scary, Donna John ! Thank you for sharing this. We were just in AZ, where is was 110 degrees. We were pushing the water, but now I see we should have maybe had Smart Water or Gatorade. Also, we had little battery operated fans that misted water - love those!
Donna John
I was never a Gatorade person until recently. They were always too salty tasting for me. But G2 is not that bad. I make myself grab one now when we're out in the heat. Love those mister fans! Bought one at Target a few weeks ago that works really well - and only $9. Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
Ann Marie Patitucci
Great tips! I have felt awful lately due to lots of time in the heat, on July 4th and at my sons' swim meets. My chiropractor recommends putting a half teaspoon to a full teaspoon of sea salt in your water or in your food daily to help prevent dehydration.

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