Heat Exhaustion: Signs, Treatment, Causes, Prevention + Refreshing Recipes

Heat Exhaustion: Signs, Treatment, Causes, Prevention + Refreshing Recipes

The Ayurveda Experience July 16, 2018

Heat exhaustion is a condition that occurs when the body overheats.Heat exhaustion signs include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, both a result of your body overheating. Heat exhaustion is one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe. Keep reading to learn heat exhaustion causes, when to see the doctor, who’s at risk, heat exhaustion treatment and heat exhaustion prevention.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we’ll cover in this article.

What is normal core temperature?
Possible Heat Exhaustion Signs + Symptoms
When To See The Doctor
Heat Exhaustion Causes
Who’s At Risk
Heat Exhaustion Treatment: What To Do If You Experience Heat Exhaustion
Heat Exhaustion Prevention
Refreshing Recipes For Summer

READ MORE: Dehydration: 5 Replenishing Beverates + Ayurvedic Summer Health Tips

Runners exhausted, heat exhaustion signs, heat exhaustion symptoms, heat exhaustion causes, heat exhaustion treatment.

What is normal core body temperature?

Heat exhaustion results when your body fails to cool down and maintain a normal core temperature. If left untreated, it can lead to heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition which needs medical intervention.

Your body’s heat combined with environmental heat result in what’s called your core temperature, your body’s internal temperature. Your body needs to regulate the heat gain (and in cold weather, heat loss) from the environment to maintain a core temperature that’s normal, approximately 98.6 F (37 C).1

Possible Heat Exhaustion Signs + Symptoms

Here are some possible heat exhaustion signs and symptoms.

  • Cool, moist skin with goosebumps in the heat, or clammy skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Low blood pressure upon standing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headache

Individuals with heat exhaustion will generally have an elevated body core temperature (internal temperature, not skin temperature).

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When To See The Doctor

If your signs and symptoms don’t improve within an hour, or if they worsen, contact your doctor or health care provider immediately. You will need urgent medical attention if your core body temperature reaches 104F (40C).

If you are with someone suffering from heat exhaustion, seek medical attention if their core temperature rises or if he or she is confused or agitated.

Heat Exhaustion Causes

The main cause of heat exhaustion is failure of the body’s cooling mechanism (mainly evaporative sweating) to maintain a normal core body temperature, resulting in the body overheating. This can occur in adults, children and animals (dogs and cats, for example). The following factors can contribute to heat exhaustion.

  • Strenuous work or exercise in a warm or hot environment
  • Dehydration
  • Alcohol intake
  • Wearing clothing that inhibits evaporative cooling of the body.

READ MORE: Pitta Cooling Foods And Drinks For Summer + Infographic

Who’s At Risk

The elderly and children under five years of age are at higher risk for developing heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion can happen when dehydration occurs after a long heat spell especially, when humidity is high.

Heat Exhaustion Treatment: What To Do If You Experience Heat Exhaustion

When heat exhaustion occurs, you need to immediately cool the body by rehydration.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid carbonated or alcoholic drinks.
  • Coconut water is a cooling fruit that can do wonders to help keep you hydrated.
  • Stop all activity and take rest. The person affected should be transferred to a cool and shady place, preferably into air conditioning if available.
  • Make the person lie down with legs elevated above the heart.
  • Cooling can be aided by spraying cool water on the skin and then circulating the air with fans in order to increase evaporative cooling. A cool water shower may also help.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, natural fabrics.
  • Provide the person with cool drinks such as electrolytes, lemonade, coconut water. Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes and low on the glycemic index.
  • Additionally, intravenous fluids may be given by medical personnel to treat dehydration if needed.

People with high Pitta dosha need to be particularly vigilant about keeping their body cool. The main element in Pitta dosha is fire and so they get heated easily. In order to avoid damaging their internal organs, Pitta prakriti (Pitta body types) should take special care to not get overheated. Not onlyPittabody types can be affected. Others should also take precautions to avoid heat exhaustion. If neglected, the condition might cause severe consequences. Vata body types also need special care as they are easily dehydrated.

READ MORE: Pitta Diet: Everything You Need To Know

Woman tired, in a bathtub. Heat exhaustion signs, heat exhaustion symptoms, heat exhaustion causes, heat exhaustion treatment.Heat Exhaustion Prevention

You can take a number of precautions to prevent heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses.

When temperatures rises, wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly won’t allow your body to cool properly.

Protect against the sun. Avoid the midday sun. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself. Protect yourself outdoors with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Avoid going out in the mid day sun when the sun’s rays are most intense.

Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.

Never leave anyone in a parked car. This is a common cause of heat-related deaths in children. When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees Fahrenheit (more than 6.7 C) in 10 minutes.

Try to schedule exercise or physical labor for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening. Limit time spent working or exercising in heat.

Be cautious if you’re on any medication. If you take medications or have a condition that increases your risk of heat-related problems, such as a history of previous heat illness, avoid the heat and act quickly if you notice symptoms of overheating.

Avoid excessive salty, spicy, sour, hot and pungent food. Avoid hot beverages as it is unbalancing for Pitta dosha.

Avoid skipping meals, but do not overeat. Take light meals and do not get dehydrated.

Drink coconut water. It’s great for hydration and neutralizes acid so it can also help with heartburn and acid reflux.

When it comes to exercise, especially during Pitta season, don’t over-exert yourself, especially by running in the hot afternoon sun. Reduce anything that heats the body. That includes saunas, steam rooms, hot showers and hot spicy foods. Stay out of the hot midday sun.

Take walks in the cool mornings or evening under the moonlight after dinner. Do deep breathing exercises and meditation. Enjoy the following cooling recipes to stay hydrated in the heat.

READ MORE: 8 Benefits + Uses Of Aloe Vera (Kumari) + How To Prepare Fresh Aloe Gel

Refreshing Recipes For Summer

Here are a few recipes to beat the heat this summer.

Watermelon-Pineapple Juice


10 cups of sliced watermelon and pineapple
pinch of black salt
5-6 ice cubes
mint leaves to garnish


Blend the watermelon and pineapple pieces together with two ice cubes. Add the black salt and stir. Pour into glasses. Add a few ice cubes and garnish with mint leaves. 

READ MORE: Watermelon: Summer’s Super Fruit + Health Tips You Didn’t Know

Sweet Or Spicy Mango Drink (Aam Panna)


4 mangoes
4 tsp sugar
black salt
mint leaves
roasted cumin powder
chilled water
ice cubes


Boil the raw mangoes, skin-on, in a pressure cooker or roast in the oven so the pulp gets spongy. Let cool, then peel off the skin.

Mash the pulp, removing the seed, then blend in a blender. For sweet aam panna, dissolve four teaspoons of sugar in one cup of water, making a sugar syrup. Pour this sugar syrup into the blender and stir well. If you want spicy, saltedaam panna then add the black salt and cumin powder with a few mint leaves and blend again. Pour into a pitcher, add four cups of water and stir well. Serve chilled adding ice cubes as needed.

READ MORE: Pitta Pacifying Blueberry Recipes For Summer

Khus (Vetiver) Sherbet


16 teaspoons khus syrup
4 tbsp soaked falooda seeds (sabja or sweet basil seeds)
16 tsp kewra water (optional)
2-3 drops fresh lemon juice
3 bottles lemonade
crushed ice


Mix all ingredients (except the ice) together in a blender. Serve in tall glasses with crushed ice.

READ MORE: Rose Petal Recipes: Rose Lassi, Rose Milk, Rose Thirst Quencher


1. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Heat Exhaustion.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Dec. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heat-exhaustion/symptoms-causes/syc-20373250.


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