Heat exhaustion usually occurs gradually and is particularly common in those who have been working or exercising vigorously in unaccustomed heat. The symptoms are often similar to those of shock (see pA50) as a result of the excessive loss of fluids through perspiration. The sufferer's temperature may be normal or only slightly raised, the skin cold and clammy, and the pulse fast and weak. In addition, the loss of salt because of excessive perspiration may cause painful muscle cramps. The casualty may also be hyperventilating.
Treatment of heat exhaustion
1. Remove the casualty out of direct sunlight and heat to a shaded, cool place.
2. Ask the casualty to lie down and support his or her legs in a raised position.
3. Encourage the casualty to drink plenty of weak salty water (about one teaspoon of salt per liter of water is sufficient).
4. If the casualty recovers quickly, he or she should still be encouraged to see a doctor.
5. Should the casualty become unconscious, place him or her in the recovery position and call an ambulance. While you are waiting for help to arrive, keep a check on the casualty's circulation and breathing.