Anyone can experience heat exhaustion, but certain risk factors can make some groups of people more vulnerable to heat exhaustion.
Infants, young children, and older adults are at an increased risk for heat exhaustion. This is because of their inability to regulate their body temperatures. They are also more likely to become easily dehydrated when out in the heat.
Some medications can increase your risk for heat exhaustion. This is because they can cause dehydration. Examples of medications that increase the risk for heat exhaustion are those used to treat migraines, allergies, bipolar disorder, seizures, and high blood pressure.
People who are affected by excess weight might be at an increased risk for heat exhaustion. This is because obesity and related health conditions, such as diabetes, affect the way the body regulates its core temperature. Being overweight can also cause the body to retain more heat.
Sudden Temperature Changes
People who are not used to hotter climates are more vulnerable to heat exhaustion, regardless of age or health status. This is because the body needs time to get used to the higher temperatures.
Older people, those with chronic medical conditions, and those taking medicines that interfere with body temperature are most affected when exposed to sudden temperature changes. They are the most at risk for heat exhaustion when traveling to hot climates or dealing with extreme weather changes.
High Heat Index
Heat exhaustion is often related to the heat index—a measurement of how heated the body gets from the effects of humidity and air temperature. Excessive humidity can also hinder sweat evaporation and affect the body’s ability to cool itself.
The risk for a heat-related illness increases when the heat index is at 90 degrees or higher. It is important to pay attention to the heat index during the summer months. The heat index can be even higher when you are in the sunlight.
People who do not have access to air-conditioning in their workplaces or their homes due to cost or other reasons are at greater risk when the heat index is high. They may need to access public spaces that are cooled or cooling shelters during times of high heat.