Heatstroke Vs Heat Exhaustion: Whats The Difference
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are types of heat-related illnesses. People often talk about heat exhaustion and heatstroke as though they are separate things. But they exist on a spectrum from not-so-serious to significant emergency, Dr. Waters says.
The spectrum of heat-related illnesses includes:
- Heat rash: Also known as prickly heat, this red, stinging rash develops when youre hot and sweaty. Its most likely to show up in areas where sweat gets trapped, like inside your elbows and behind your knees.
- Heat cramps: Painful muscle cramps can strike when youre exercising in hot weather. They develop when you sweat so much that your body loses salts and fluids.
- Heat exhaustion: More serious than heat rash or cramps, heat exhaustion occurs when your body cant cool itself through sweating. Untreated, it can progress to heatstroke.
- Heatstroke: Sometimes called sunstroke, heatstroke is the most severe heat-related illness. During heatstroke, your body temperature climbs quickly to dangerous levels. Often, people with heatstroke stop sweating. The bodys mechanisms for dealing with heat are overwhelmed, Dr. Waters says. Without treatment, heatstroke can be deadly.
Glycemic Control During Thermal Stress
It is well established that glycemia levels decrease in those with diabetes during an acute exercise bout, with more pronounced reductions observed during aerobic activities. Hot ambient conditions can also independently modulate glycemia by increasing insulin absorption and are reported to have additive effects to exercise in decreasing blood glucose levels. These findings were supported during exercise wherein 75% of participants with type 1 diabetes required glucose supplementation during 90 min of cycling as well as in type 2 diabetes by Hooper who noted that a 3 week exposure in a hot tub resulted in a rapid decrease of HbA1c by ~1% and fasting blood glucose by ~1.3 mmol·L-1 . Even local heating of the insulin injection site can lower post-prandial glycemia through increasing insulin absorption and activity, and has been suggested as a potential avenue to improve long-term glycemic control. The mechanisms for these improvements remain unclear however, it has been postulated that increases in muscle blood flow associated with heating and/or activation of heat shock protein 70.
Ways The Heat Can Affect People With Diabetes
Its not just that the hot weather can make you feel tired and sluggish. It can have some negative effects on how your diabetes affects your body. For example, people with diabetes tend to get dehydrated more quickly than people without diabetes. Signs of mild to moderate dehydration can include:
Some people even notice their sweat production drops off.
Dehydration can make your blood glucose levels rise. Then, you may develop a more frequent need to urinate, which compounds the problem.
Youre also more vulnerable to heat exhaustion because diabetes can damage your blood vessels and nerves, including the nerves in your sweat glands, so you may not be able to cool your body as efficiently as it needs.
Additionally, high temps can alter how your body uses insulin. Typically, if youre exercising, it reduces your need for insulin. But hot weather can throw a wrench into that, and you may be at risk for both high and low blood glucose levels.
Thats a good incentive for discussing with a medical professional how to adjust your insulin, if need be, to account for your activity level and the weather.
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Managing Diabetes In The Heat
How to keep your cool during the hottest time of year.
Take steps to stay cool when the weather heats up.
Did you know that people who have diabetesboth type 1 and type 2feel the heat more than people who dont have diabetes? Some reasons why:
- Certain diabetes complications, such as damage to blood vessels and nerves, can affect your sweat glands so your body cant cool as effectively. That can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which is a medical emergency.
- People with diabetes get dehydrated more quickly. Not drinking enough liquids can raise blood sugar, and high blood sugar can make you urinate more, causing dehydration. Some commonly used medicines like diuretics can dehydrate you, too.
- High temperatures can change how your body uses insulin. You may need to test your blood sugar more often and adjust your insulin dose and what you eat and drink.
- Get medical attention for heat-related illness.
- Make a plan in case you lose power.
- Have a go-bag ready for emergencies.
Treatment For Heat Exhaustion
If you, or anyone else, has symptoms of heat exhaustion, it’s essential to immediately get out of the heat and rest, preferably in an air-conditioned room. If you can’t get inside, try to find the nearest cool and shady place.
Other recommended strategies include:
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially sports drinks to replace lost salt .
- Remove any tight or unnecessary clothing.
- Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
- Apply other cooling measures such as fans or ice towels.
If such measures fail to provide relief within 15 minutes, seek emergency medical help, because untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.
After you’ve recovered from heat exhaustion, you’ll probably be more sensitive to high temperatures during the following week. So it’s best to avoid hot weather and heavy exercise until your doctor tells you that it’s safe to resume your normal activities.
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Going For A Swim To Cool Down Can Be Deadly
Jumping into a pool or a lake to cool down when signs of heat exhaustion are present is not necessarily a good idea. Yes, it will cool the body’s temperature, but given that the other signs of heat exhaustion are fatigue and dizziness, swimming is not safe, Hauptman said. Instead, cool the skin by spraying it gently with water or immersing in a cold bath or shower. Cool sponges can also be used, or the person suffering from the symptoms can be wrapped in a cool sheet.
Dont Forget About Humidity
In some places, its not just hot. Its hot and humid at the same time. The extra moisture in the air can make the heat feel worse.
And heres the challenge for people with diabetes: When its humid, your sweat doesnt evaporate as well as it would under drier conditions. That makes it harder to stay cool, and that can make it harder for you to keep your blood glucose levels under control.
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Heat Exhaustion Prevention Tips
Prevention of heat exhaustion is accomplished by taking reasonable precautions. The precautions are as follows:
Diabetes And Heat Exhaustion Symptoms
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What Problems Can Hot Weather Cause For People With Diabetes
Dehydration can be an issue in hot weather, and higher blood glucose levels can further increase this risk.
People with diabetes may need to increase their intake of fluids in hot weather, drinking water regularly through the day.
One of the major concerns regarding diabetes and hot weather is the risk of blood sugar levels rising or falling and causing hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.
It Can Take Days To Go From Heat Exhaustion To Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion symptoms can worsen over the course of several days. “If someone is shut in an apartment, doesn’t have ready access to fluids, and is unable to take the necessary measures, the symptoms can evolve,” Hauptman said. “And if you don’t take the appropriate measures, it can cause heat stroke and that’s when your body’s cooling mechanism totally fails.” Heat stroke is the most serious type of heat injury, and is a medical emergency.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Heat Stress
What should diabetics do to protect themselves? Letâs talk about how being cautious about heat exposure and exercise, consuming enough liquids, and increasing blood sugar level monitoring can help diabetics live safely in any high-temperature environment.
Image Credit/Wikimedia Commons/1-1111/GNUFDL
First, letâs take a look at the signs of heat stress. Individuals may experience excessive sweating, or stop sweating entirely. They may become confused or disoriented, and be unable to concentrate. If the symptoms are not treated promptly, they may become dizzy, faint, or collapse. If a diabetic experiences any of these symptoms, he should check his blood sugar levels immediately, and then start drinking fluids. Next, letâs see how to take appropriate precautions about heat exposure.
How To Prevent Heat Exhaustion And Heatstroke
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can often be prevented by taking sensible precautions when it’s very hot. See below for advice to help prevent health-related conditions. This includes:
Stay out of the heat
- keep out of the sun between 11.00-15.00
- if you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf
- avoid extreme physical exertion
- wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes
If you’re travelling to a hot country, be particularly careful for at least the first few days, until you get used to the temperature.
Cool yourself down
- have plenty of cold drinks, and avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks
- eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content
- take a cool shower or bath
Sprinkle water over your skin or clothing, or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck.
If youre not urinating often or your urine is dark, it’s a sign that you’re becoming dehydrated and need to drink more.
Keep your environment cool
- keep windows and curtains that are exposed to the sun closed during the day, but open windows at night when the temperature has dropped
- if possible, move into a cooler room, especially for sleeping
- electric fans may provide some relief
- turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment, as they generate heat
- keep indoor plants and bowls of water in the house, as these can cool the air
Look out for others
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Check For Signs Of Heat Exhaustion
The signs of heat exhaustion include:
- a headache
- loss of appetite and feeling sick
- excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
- cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
- fast breathing or pulse
- a high temperature of 38C or above
- being very thirsty
The symptoms are often the same in adults and children, although children may become floppy and sleepy.
If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, they need to be cooled down.
How Hot Weather Affects Blood Sugar Levels
Sitting in the sun for long periods can affect your diabetes because you’re not being very active, making blood sugar levels higher than usual. On the flipside, if you take insulin to treat your diabetes it will be will be absorbed more quickly from the injection site in warm weather, and this increases the risk of hypos.
If you’re careful about managing your diabetes then there’s no reason you can’t have fun in the sun like anybody else. We’ve created some top tips to stay sun-safe this summer.
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What Are The Effects Of Fatigue On Diabetes
When someone becomes fatigued, it can lead to a never ending cycle. First, because of the fatigue, they become tired and dont want to do anything. That leads to lack of exercise and poor dietary choices. These choices make them depressed, which in turn makes the fatigue even worse. This cycle continues and eventually the person begins to have complications from diabetes because their blood sugars are not under control.
Fatigue can cause someone to lose motivation to take care of themselves. They stop checking their blood sugar like they should or do things for themselves that they know they should because they are just too tired. Insulin dosages are skipped or not given accurately because of the time and energy that it takes to do it correctly. It is very important for all individuals with fatigue to find a solution, but it is even more important for those people with diabetes because of the risk of complications due to non-compliance.
Can Undiagnosed/uncontrolled Diabetes Cause Fatigue
Undiagnosed and uncontrolled diabetes can cause fatigue. Earlier in this article, reactive hypoglycemia was mentioned, which is when your body tries to make too much insulin to keep up with the sugar intake and causes a sugar crash. There are approximately 7 million people with undiagnosed diabetes in the world. Fatigue is the most common symptom of diabetes and hopefully leads to people seeing their doctors and being diagnosed to get control of their blood sugar.
Uncontrolled diabetes causes fatigue for many reasons that were also mentioned previously in this article. First of all, blood sugars that are either too high or too low do not deliver fuel to the cells for the body to operate. Secondly, complications that are caused by uncontrolled diabetes such as kidney disease and nerve damage also cause fatigue. The most important thing to do is to control blood sugar.
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Can Having Gestational Diabetes Make You Tired
Gestational diabetes is a condition that approximately 4% of women experience during pregnancy. Due to the hormones, insulin resistance occurs, and causes higher blood sugar levels. This can be a problem because it causes babies to be born larger and have difficult births. It can also cause birth defects and it makes the first few days difficult for the newborn to maintain their blood sugar. It usually can be controlled with a change in diet, but sometimes insulin may be required.
Some women show no signs of gestational diabetes, while other have extreme fatigue, elevated thirst, and an increase in urinating. The problem is that most pregnant women experience all of these symptoms anyway. For this reason, all women are tested for gestational around 24 weeks of pregnancy. Women at a higher risk may be tested earlier.
If fatigue does become worse during pregnancy, the expectant mother should seek help from their physician to rule out gestational diabetes or other complications such as low blood pressure or anemia .
Cardiovascular Burden Of Heat
When core and skin temperature rise, thermosensors across the body respond by shunting a large proportion of blood to the periphery . This has two primary effects:
This process of increasing blood flow to the skin to regulate body temperature is taxing on the cardiovascular system. The blood vessels near the skin need to dilate, and the heart needs to pump harder and faster.
That is where the major problem lies: A large fraction of the population has some form of cardiovascular disease. Nearly 10 per cent of Canadian adults suffer from heart disease, and nearly two-thirds of Canadians are prone to impaired heart and metabolic function . Not surprisingly, rates of cardiovascular events are notably increased during a heat wave.
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Actions For This Page
- Heat kills more Australians than any natural disaster.
- Heatstroke is fatal in up to 80% of cases.
- During the 2009 Victorian heatwave the number of deaths increased by 374 people.
- Heat-related illness can be prevented.
- Keep cool, avoid vigorous physical activity in hot weather, and drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic fluids.
- Never leave children, older people or pets unattended in a car.