Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stress: The Right Way Out.


                                           Photo by Makayla on Unsplash                               

Lately, the weather has been so hot that it becomes very difficult for people to do things they would normally do in milder weather. And the likelihood of people coming down with heat exhaustion, heat stress or even developing heatstroke is high.

What is Heat Exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion according to Mayo Clinic is a condition induced by high exposure to a combination of high temperature, high humidity, and strenuous physical activity. It is expressed in the form of heavy sweating, and a rapid pulse; a result of your body’s overheating.

What is heat stress?

Heat stress on the other hand is a condition where the body overheats and puts stress on the body. This could lead to heat cramps or heat stroke in more severe cases.

We cannot deny that nature is God’s gift to mankind to enjoy. Practically everyone talks about trying to eat, live or be more in tune with nature, but there are aspects of nature that we should apply wisdom when dealing with them. 

Depending on the situation, people may not be able to withstand harsh weather conditions. So, special care should be taken when choosing what to wear outdoors and when carrying out task that involves physical activity. . It is necessary to look at how to circumvent stressful conditions that affect our health. 

 Photo Credit: National Weather Service 

Living healthy requires a good understanding of the prevailing weather condition and a quick adaptation of lifestyle to suit such situations. Changes in weather temperature over time are a normal occurrence; nevertheless, these changes come with some not-so-good effects on humans if precautionary care is not taken.

While most nations have winter, spring, summer, and fall, most African nations have just two: rainy season and dry season. Over here in sub-Saharan Africa, weather temperatures have been high with readings ranging between 29 – 41 degrees Celsius (84.2 F-105.8F). it is only right that you know how to handle heat exhaustion/heat stress. 

Sub-Saharan African nations like Nigeria experience high temperatures of between 27-42 degrees Celsius and a humidity range of 40%-70% and can be said to be a prime spot for heatstroke.

What should you look out for to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stress

In the face of hot weather condition and heatwaves, here are some indicative signs of heat exhaustion



Weak or rapid pulse;



Low blood pressure upon standing;

Cool moist skin with goosebumps when in heat.

When these signals are ignored, heat exhaustion and heat stress can lead to heatstroke. 

Source: Environmental Health and Safety. IOWA State University

What can be done to avoid heat exhaustion/heat stress?

Medical science explains the cause of heat exhaustion as the body’s inability to cool itself. The human body regulates itself in hot weather by sweating. This release of sweat ensures that the body maintains its acceptable temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. Thus the following is important;

You should drink plenty of water: Due to the hot weather, your body gives out more sweat than normal in its bid to maintain a normal temperature. This action by the body results in the loss of more fluid from the body. This could lead to dehydration if more fluid is lost than the amount consumed. Drink plenty of water every day and replenish your body fluid so your body would functions properly. 

You need to reduce alcohol intake: Alcohol is said to have the ability to influence the rate at which the body regulates temperature. In hot weather, it is thus advisable to reduce alcohol intake and instead take more water.

Avoid overdressing: Stay away from thick or heavy clothing especially ones that do not allow sweat to evaporate. These kinds of clothing tend to hold back heat and the overall effect is an increase in body temperature.

Avoid strenuous physical outdoor activity: Carrying out strenuous physical activity outdoors can be very dangerous in hot weather. Iowa State University in an article on heat stress asserts that exposure to full sunshine can increase heat index values by up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. 

What lifestyle changes do I need to make?

Carry out outdoor work in a shaded place;

Wear light, loose-fitting clothes;

Carry an umbrella if you need to walk a distance;

Work in an airy well-ventilated space. Use air conditioners to cool your home or office if you have one. If you do not have any, use fans;

Be on the watch out for signs and symptoms of heat stress and heat exhaustion;

Keep a bottle of water close to you  


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