Heat Exposure and Reactions

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Care at Home

  • HEAT CRAMPS - WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Heat cramps are the most common reaction to heat exposure. They are never serious. Sometimes, they can be a early warning sign of heat exhaustion. * The cramps occur in the muscles that were working the hardest. * Heat cramps can be quite painful. * Heat cramps mean that the body needs rest and more liquids and salt.
  • DIZZINESS - WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Dizziness and weakness can be caused by mild dehydration. This occurs from all the sweating that happens when hot. * Dizziness should clear in 1 to 2 hours after the lost fluids are replaced. * Mild dehydration can also cause nausea. It should pass after drinking enough fluids.
  • FEVER - WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:. * The body can become overheated from activity when it's hot outdoors. The temperature should come down to normal after drinking fluids and resting. This may take 1 or 2 hours. * NO MEDS: Fever medicines are of no value for this type of fever. * COOL BATH: First, have your child drink some liquids. Then, take a cool bath or shower for 5 minutes. Reason: Brings down the temperature faster.
  • FOOD: * After your child has taken 2 or 3 glasses of water, offer some salty foods. Potato chips or pretzels are helpful. * Don't give salt tablets. Reason: They slow down the absorption of water and may cause vomiting.
  • DRINK LIQUIDS TO REHYDRATE: * Give a sports-rehydration drink (such as Gatorade), which contains sugar and salt OR * Give water with some salty foods (such as potato chips or pretzels). * Start with 2 or 3 cups (480-720 ml) for teens. * Then give 1 cup (240 ml) every 15 minutes for the next 1-2 hours. (Teens) * The urine color can help tell if drinking enough liquids. Dark yellow urine means mild dehydration. Clear or light yellow urine means your child is drinking enough liquids.
  • REST: * Rest in a cool place with a fan until feeling better.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Vomiting keeps from drinking * Signs of dehydration occur * Muscle cramps last more than 4 hours * Fever goes above 104°F (40.0°C) * Fever lasts more than 2 hours * Your child becomes worse
  • PREVENTION OF HEAT REACTIONS: * When working outside, have your child drink large amounts of cool water. This helps to prevent dehydration. For teens, this means at least 8 ounces (240 ml) every 15 to 30 minutes. Water is the ideal solution for replacing lost sweat. Very little salt is lost. * Most often, special sports drinks offer no advantage over water. But, they are helpful if working out for longer than an hour. If that is the case, replace 1 water drink per hour with a sports drink. * Have your child take water breaks every 15 minutes in the shade. Have him drink some water even if he's not thirsty. Thirst can be delayed until a person is almost dehydrated. * Do not use salt tablets. They slow down stomach emptying and delay the absorption of fluids. * Have your child wear a single layer of lightweight clothing. Change it if it becomes wet with sweat. * Physical activity in hot weather should be increased slowly. * Sports coaches suggest that exercise sessions be shortened and made easier when it's hot. This is usually when the temperature is over 82°F (28°C). Also, this is very important if the humidity is high. * Protect babies with fevers from heatstroke by not bundling them in blankets. Also, do not dress them in too many clothes. Children usually need the same number of clothing layers as adults. * During heat waves, spend as much time as possible inside with air-conditioning. Electric fans also help. Slow down. It takes at least a week to get used to hot summer temperatures.
  • PREVENTION - HOT TUBS: * Age limit: Do not use hot tubs in children less than 3 years old. * Reason: Poor heat tolerance and increased risk for rapid onset of high body temperature. * When using a hot tub, limit use to 15 minutes. Use a 'buddy' system in case a heat reaction suddenly occurs. * Do not use a hot tub if your child has a fever. Also, do not use them right after hard work or sports. The body needs to get rid of heat.

Disclaimer

The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
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    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

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