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Avoiding heat exhaustion means drinking non-caffeinated beverages like water or Gatorade in quantities enough to replenish what is lost in sweating.

Everyone knows this has been a record-breaking summer heat wave causing draught in 26 states, but some of us fail to realize the danger of riding in weather like this.  A few weeks ago, I thought I was fine, and I was, up until I wasn’t.  I suffered from heat exhaustion which made for an uncomfortable ride home. 

If you have any sort of medical condition which can be exacerbated by the heat please take extra care, drink water or Gatorade, anything really with no caffeine or alcohol, even if you don’t really want it. 

A Motor Maids sister also had a problem with heat on the way to convention in S. Carolina recently, so perhaps a very brief look at signs and symptoms might help others to avoid such a problem.

Heat exhaustion sometimes takes a while to manifest itself, for example, if you’ve been exposed to high temperatures for several days and have, over time, developed dehydration it may not take much to put you over the edge. 

The most common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include confusion, dark urine, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headache, muscle cramps, nausea, pale skin, profuse sweating and rapid heartbeat.

In the South we’re keenly aware of something called a heat index – that is the actual temperature with the relative humidity factored in.  Humidity can slow sweat evaporation and impair your body’s natural ability to cool itself.  We should pay as much attention to the humidity level as to the air temperature.

While some of us may not like to admit it, there are other factors which can increase our danger of heat exhaustion including our age, pre-existing health conditions, and medications we take. 

Those most prone to heat illnesses are children up to age 4 and those over 65. 

Problems with heart, lungs, or kidneys, obesity or being underweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, alcoholism, sunburn, or any malady that causes the body to run a fever can add to heat illness.  Women who are especially heat sensitive due to menopausal factors should take extra precautions to avoid heat illnesses as well. 

Pay close attention to the safety precautions on medication bottles.  Some will caution against sun exposure and some put us at higher risk for heat related illness, including but not limited to diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, stimulants, meds for psychiatric disorder, and some prescribed for high blood pressure. 

In my case, there were multiple factors that contributed to my episode – primarily menopausal heat sensitivity, not drinking enough non-caffeinated fluids, (sweet tea isn’t your best choice) and sweating profusely to the point it was dripping out of my hair.  I realized I was in trouble when I became nauseated, my head was pounding, I was suddenly very tired, and I had dehydrated and stopped sweating. 

Once a problem is experienced it may take days or even weeks to fully recover, and if not handled quickly and properly can easily lead to a worse condition known as heat stroke.  Several weeks after the fact, the headache I developed has not totally dissipated, perhaps due to the fact that the temperature has remained excessively high for weeks. 

Ride safe, take extra precautions to remain comfortable and healthy, and enjoy the road.  Vrumblesramblingbikerblog.wordpress.com©

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