Heat Exhaustion


Diagnosing heat exhaustion usually entails a physical examination, which may involve assessing the individual’s temperature and inquiring about recent activities.

If there is a suspicion of heatstroke, necessary tests may be ordered such as:

  • Blood test: A sample of the blood is extracted to test for levels of blood sodium, potassium, and gas content.
  • Urine test: This test can assess kidney function, which may be impacted by heatstroke. This can evaluate urine concentration and composition.
  • Imaging tests:  X-rays and other scans may be required to look for internal organ damage.
  • Muscle function tests:  Rhabdomyolysis, a condition that can occur due to various factors, including extreme physical exertion, trauma, or heat-related conditions such as heatstroke, can be detected through this test. Rhabdomyolysis is a severe condition characterized by the breakdown of muscle tissue.


In most cases, you can treat heat exhaustion yourself by doing the following:

  • Rest in a cool place. Getting into an air-conditioned building is best. If that’s not an option, find a shady spot or sit in front of a fan. Rest on your back with your legs raised higher than your heart level.
  • Drink cool fluids. Stick to water or sports drinks. Don’t drink any alcoholic beverages, which can add to dehydration.
  • Try cooling measures. If possible, take a cool shower, soak in a cool bath or put towels soaked in cool water on your skin. If you’re outdoors and not near shelter, soaking in a cool pond or stream can help bring your temperature down.
  • Loosen clothing. Remove any unnecessary clothing and make sure your clothes are lightweight and nonbinding.

If you don’t begin to feel better within one hour of using these treatment measures, seek prompt medical attention.

To cool your body to a normal temperature, your health care team may use these heatstroke treatment techniques:

  • Immerse you in cold water. A bath of cold or ice water has proven to be the most effective way of quickly lowering the core body temperature. The quicker you can receive cold water immersion, the less risk of organ damage and death.
  • Use evaporation cooling techniques. If cold water immersion is not an option, health care professionals may try to lower your body temperature using an evaporation method. Cool water is misted on your body while warm air is fanned over you. This causes the water to evaporate and cool your skin.
  • Pack you with ice and cooling blankets. Another method to lower your temperature is to wrap you in a special cooling blanket and apply ice packs to your groin, neck, back and armpits.
  • Give you medications to stop your shivering. If treatments to lower your body temperature make you shiver, your doctor may give you a muscle relaxant, such as a benzodiazepine. Shivering increases your body temperature, making treatment less effective.