When a person is exposed to high temperatures, usually in the sun, he or she can develop heat exhaustion. This type of condition can prove to be very serious. It is sometimes confused with heat stroke. While they are not the same thing, they both should be examined by medical professionals and should be taken seriously.
Biologically, there are two different reasons for heat exhaustion:
- It can be the result of water depletion. The characteristics of this type include severe thirst, weakness, headache, and passing out.
- Heat exhaustion can also be the result of salt depletion. The characteristics for this include nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness.
These two types of heat exhaustion often share symptoms. For this reason, it is usually just categorized as one generic condition. Some general symptoms include pale skin, headache, abdominal cramps, heavy sweating, fatigue, fainting, and dark-colored urine.
There are many things that put your body at risk of heat exhaustion. The first risk occurs when the relative humidity is about 60 percent. This slows down the body’s ability to produce sweat at a healthy rate, meaning that your body is having a more difficult time cooling itself.
The second risk becomes a factor when the heat index is at 90 degrees or more. When working in the sun, it is important to pay attention to the temperature. Is the temperature climbing? Are you working in direct sunlight? If possible, employees should try and stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
Age, certain health conditions, and medications can make a person more susceptible to heat exhaustion. Meeting with your doctor about your current conditions can help inform you about your risks for developing this severe condition.
Employees who spend a lot of time in the sun—like construction workers—are at a higher risk for heat exhaustion. If you believe that you have developed heat exhaustion or have suffered in the past due to unsafe working conditions, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your medical bills or lost income due to time off work.