5 Common Heat Injuries Faced by All Hikers

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Weather and temperature are very important factors that helps you determine what to bring on a hike and how your hiking experience will be like. Whether in hot or cold temperatures, an exposure to these can result in severe injuries or even death, if not managed properly. 

Here are the 5 most common heat injuries and their treatments: 

 

1. Heat Cramps

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  • due to salt depletion
  • results in nausea, twitching of muscle groups
  • severe cramping of abdominal muscles, legs, or elsewhere at times
  • Treatment: 
    • stretching of the affected muscles (avoid aggressive massage)
    • resting in a cool environment
    • replenish salt losses 
    • generous water replenishment

 

2. Heat Exhaustion

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  • caused by a dilation of blood vessels in the skin that attempts to divert heat from the core to the surface for cooling
  • coupled with profuse sweating and loss of fluid, blood pressure will be too low for adequate supply to the brain and other organs
  • results in a rapid heart rate and shock symptoms such as pale face colour, nausea, dizziness, headache and a light-headed feeling. One will sweat profusely and skin temperature may be low 
  • Treatment: 
    • lie down immediately and elevate the feet to increase blood supply to head
    • cover if body temperature is cool or skin sweaty
    • if conscious, provide plenty of water of about 1 to 1.5 litres (with salt would be helpful)
    • if unconscious, elevate feet to about 1 meter above head level and prevent any potential of accidentally inhaling vomit 

 

3. Heat Stroke

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  • complete breakdown of heat-control process due to total loss of ability to sweat
  • core temperature rise over 40.5 degrees celsius 
  • results in death if condition left untreated and requires immediate medical attention. One will be confused and rapidly become unconscious
  • Treatment:
    • move victim into shade or build a temporary shelter for shade
    • spray water and fan victim to cool him down
    • massage limbs to allow circulation of cooler blood of the extremities to return to core more readily
    • do anything that provides the best coolant effect possible
    • evacuation and immediate medical attention needed as victim’s temperature regulation is unstable for an unknown length of time

 

4. Prickly Heat

  • caused by sweat trapped in glands in the skin
  • results in irritation and frequent severe itching
  • Treatment: 
    • cool and dry affected area
    • avoid conditions that may induce sweating for a while
    • thinly apply hydrocortisone cream every 6 hours (if any)

 

5. Sunburn

  • damage caused by over-exposure to the sun
  • prevention is particularly important before the age of 18 as it may results in skin cancer in later years 
  • use adequate SPF factors in sunblock for skin protection 
  • Treatment:
    • manage as a first-degree burn
    • apply cooling and moisturising cream
    • aloe vera is an excellent anti-inflammation agent to use

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To prevent such injuries, always ensure that you wear appropriate clothing, head protection, have adequate water intake, physical fitness and some knowledge of the common heat injuries and treatment. 

Visit http://hikersforlife.com/sharemyhikes/home/ for Malaysia hiking destination guides. 

Posted in Hiking Tips & Treats.

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