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Heatstroke

Hiking in the desert can lead to heatstroke.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

If you're caught in the dry heat of the desert or humid, tropical conditions of an island, you could succumb to a heat related illness -- when your body fails to regulate your core temperature because it's losing water and salt through excessive sweating. The sodium and chlorine in salt are the electrolytes your muscles need to function properly. Heat cramps are followed by heat exhaustion and eventually heatstroke, or a complete failure of your body's heat-regulating system. Your body temperature rises rapidly, and you're unable to sweat and cool down. The symptoms are:

  • severe headaches
  • dizziness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • muscle twitches or spasms
  • confusion and aggression
  • very high body temperature and hot, red skin
  • increased heart rate
  • hallucinations
  • unconsciousness

To treat heatstroke, hit the shade, lie down, elevate your feet, loosen your clothing and drink water. Pour cool water on your skin and have someone fan you vigorously. You could die from heatstroke, so it's not the time to conserve your water. If you have a cool compress in your first-aid kit, apply it to your armpits and groin area. This will help to lower your overall body temperature. If you don't have a compress, douse a towel or bandana and apply it to your skin. Stay in the shade until you feel yourself cooling down. Your stomach will settle and your heart rate will steady. Only then should you think about moving again.

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