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When Temperatures Climb! Preventing Heat exhaustion

arturo garcia

Pilgrim/Hospitalero/Mountain guide/Photographer
Camino(s) past & future
French way (Dic. 2012), Portuguese way (Dic.2013) and now living on the Camino.
When temperatures climb, remember to:
  1. Wear loosefitting, lightweight clothing. ...
  2. Protect against sunburn. ...
  3. Drink plenty of fluids. ...
  4. Take extra precautions with certain medications.
  5. Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day. ...
  6. Get acclimated. ...
  7. Be cautious if you're at increased risk.
Check for signs of heat exhaustion
The signs of heat exhaustion include:
  • headache
  • dizziness and confusion
  • loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
  • cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • fast breathing or pulse
  • temperature of 38C or above
  • intense thirst
The symptoms are often the same in adults and children, although children may become floppy and sleepy.
If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion they need to be cooled down.

Things you can do to cool someone down
Follow these 4 steps:
  1. Move them to a cool place.
  2. Get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly.
  3. Get them to drink plenty of water. Sports or rehydration drinks are OK.
  4. Cool their skin – spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them. Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good too.
Stay with them until they are better.
They should start to cool down and feel better within 30 minutes.


Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
Get acclimated. ...
When I was stationed in the Middle East, we were advised that it takes about 3 weeks. Three weeks of cautious physical activity during the cooler hours of the day. The body needs time to "ramp up" its water flow-through-for-evaporative-cooling mechanism.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Thank you, Arturo. This post could save someone's life.
Does anyone know which medications increase the risk of heat stroke? @davebugg ??


"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
Thank you, Arturo. This post could save someone's life.
Does anyone know which medications increase the risk of heat stroke? @davebugg ??
There are actually some meds that are fairly common which can create problems with high temperatures when exercising. They affect the body's ability to regulate a response to heat in a few important ways:

1. Decreasing the ability to sweat -- Cough and cold meds, and some allergy meds. Additionally, these same meds may contain ingredients which also can increase the metabolic rate which increases internal body temps.

2. Affecting the ability of the brain and hypothalamus to manage heat regulation -- Some meds which are used to control mental health problems, like antipsychotics.

3. Reducing blood pressure -- These meds can decrease the rate of blood flow to the skin layers which impairs the skin's ability to shed heat.

4. Increasing levels of dehydration -- Some meds are specifically prescribed as diuretics, but there are also meds whose side effects can act as a diuretic as well.

5. Also, as we get into our later years, the 'thirst' response decreases. This means that thirst is not a reliable signal for rehydrating. Older pilgrims need to be aware of this and carefully monitor their fluid intake.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
We found a product called Flectomin at the farmacy that is electrolyte replacement. It’s in packets. It’s great and is mostly used for babies who are sick, but it’s perfect for adults too (like pedalyte) We used one a day for the last 200km toward the middle/end of the day. Before that drank mostly water and the Aquaris drink. As a distance runner I preach hydrate early and often. If you are feeling thirsty, it’s many times too late, stop, cool down and replace electrolytes ASAP. If you’re not peeing, you have a problem.


"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
I would like to talk about electrolyte replacement and sports drinks as it relates to heat stress injuries, like heat stroke.

Prolonged dehydration can create hypovolemia of the circulating blood. Most people are familiar with hypovolemia -- or decreased blood volume -- as it pertains to a heavy bleeding injury, but this condition also occurs when dehydration removes the fluid content from the bloodstream.

Hypovolemia via dehydration is one of the big reasons why people who are doing constant physical work, like walking in the sun, experience a crash of energy levels and seem to feel weaker: while not stoking the engine with enough calories is one concern, the other half of that equation -- which is even more important, is water intake.

Electrolytes do not provide protection against heat stroke or exhaustion. In fact, the sugars and salts (electrolytes) in sports drinks and replacements additives can make these conditions more likely, depending on the amounts of their intake.

Too many electrolytes can interfere with the ability of water to cross from the gut to the bloodstream, as well as decrease the ability of the kidneys to function as they try to deal with an overload of salts and sugars. Additionally, overuse of these salts and sugars can cause diarrhea, which will further complicate the prevention and treatment of these heat injuries as it exacerbates dehydration.

If one is trying to avoid heat stress injuries, limit the amount of electrolyte supplements or sports drinks that are consumed. Focus on water. Staying hydrated is the most important factor in the prevention of hypovolemia. And this is the reason to try and avoid giving electrolytes if treating someone with heat stress injuries: what is needed is to rapidly treat hypovolemia as well as reduce body core temperature. Since electrolytes can make it less efficient to treat dehydration/hypovolemia, it is best to stick to water.

Evidence of the loss of significant levels of electrolytes involve symptoms of heart irregularities or nervous system impairment. These can also be signs of hypovolemia as well. In this instance, a diluted sports drink can help, but it is likely that it will take an IV infusion of electrolytes to deal with this symptomatology.

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