When your body loses too much salt and water—typically through sweating—heat exhaustion results. In contrast, a significant medical emergency called a heat stroke happens when your body is unable to regulate its internal temperature. Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of these two diseases may save your life.
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Heat exhaustion and heat stroke symptoms can be life-threatening. The onset of muscle cramps may be the first sign that you are becoming ill from the heat. Additional signs include:
Heat exhaustion symptoms
What to do
Heat stroke symptoms
What to do
take a cool shower or use a cold compress to decrease body temperature
elevated body temperature above 40°C
call for emergency treatment
increased heavy sweating
hydrate with water or sports drinks
rapid and strong pulse or heart rate
move to a shaded or cool area
a weak but faster pulse or heart rate
move to a shaded or cool area
loss or change of consciousness
circulate air to speed up cooling
nausea or vomiting
seek medical treatment if vomiting continues
hot, red, dry, or moist skin
use a cold compress or cold, wet cloth to help lower body temperature
possible fainting, lightheadedness, dizziness
pale, cold, clammy skin
remove any extra layers or unnecessary clothing, like shoes or socks
Remember that heat stroke can cause much more dangerous problems than heat exhaustion and that it needs to be treated very away to avoid complications.
Your body's inability to regulate its temperature can result in heat exhaustion as well as heat stroke. It uses sweat as a natural cooling mechanism and may have trouble creating enough perspiration to keep you cool if you overwork yourself or exert yourself vigorously in hot weather or a heated environment.
Other causes of heat exhaustion and heat stroke include:
- wearing heavier, tight clothing
- consuming alcohol
Heat stroke can occur if you have heat exhaustion for an extended period of time. Therefore, it's critical to start therapy as soon as heat exhaustion symptoms appear.
Although anyone can get heat exhaustion or heat stroke, there are some circumstances that can increase the risk.
The following factors can increase your risk for heat-related issues:
- Age. The risk of heat-related illnesses is higher in infants, young children under the age of 4, and older individuals (65 years and older). That's because individuals at these have lower ability to regulate body temperature.
- Prescribed medications. Some medicines for heart disease or high blood pressure may make it harder for you to keep hydrated. Heat stroke and weariness can both be brought on by dehydration.
- Obesity. When you weigh more, your body retains more heat. Additionally, if you are overweight or obese, cooling down your body may be more challenging.
- Sudden temperature changes. Your body might not be able to acclimate to the warmer climate if you quickly transition from a cooler to a warmer environment, such as when you go on vacation to a hotter region. As a result, you could find it more difficult to control your body temperature.
- A high heat index. In order to evaluate how hot it feels to you and your body, the heat index takes humidity into account in addition to the ambient temperature. If the humidity is high, your perspiration may not drain as quickly and you can find it more difficult to cool off. You should concentrate on preventative measures if the heat index is higher than 32.8°C.
Take your temperature if you exhibit any signs of a heat-related illness. Heat exhaustion may be indicated by a temperature above 38°C, while heat stroke is indicated by a temperature over 40°C.
If you think you might be experiencing a heat stroke, seek medical help immediately. Based on your symptoms, your doctor can probably determine whether you have heat exhaustion or heat stroke, but they might order tests to be sure or look for complications:
- A blood test may needed to check your sodium or potassium levels.
- A sample of your urine may be taken. Dark yellow urine may be a sign of dehydration.
- Muscle function and kidney function tests may be needed.
- X-rays and other imaging tests can be needed to determine if you have any organ damage.
If you begin experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion, try to get to a cooler area as soon as you can. If you're outside, for instance, you may look for a shaded place. If possible, remove a layer of clothing if you're inside, or turn on the air conditioning.
You may also want to lie down. If lying down is not an option, you should stop engaging in any vigorous activities. This helps to regulate your body temperature. To rehydrate, drink plenty of water or sports drinks. Electrolytes are lost by your body through excessive perspiration and sports drinks provide them.
Consult a doctor immediately if you feel sick to your stomach or have vomited. A heat stroke is regarded as an urgent medical situation. If you believe you may be suffering from a heat stroke, call your local emergency services right away. To quickly lower your body temperature, your doctor might put you in an ice bath. They might also spray water on your skin, cover you in ice, or in a special cooling blanket.
You can entirely recover from heat exhaustion with medical assistance. Experiencing a heat stroke is an emergency. If left untreated, it can cause damage to your:
Your risk for serious complications, including death, increases when the treatment is delayed.
Keeping a cooler body temperature is one of the key ways to avoid heat-related issues including heat exhaustion and heat stroke. This is especially crucial if you work outside or engage in other outdoor activities in the heat of the day.
Here are some prevention tips:
- Stay hydrated. Whenever you are performing activities outdoors in the heat or the sun, drink 500ml of water every hour. Working in a hot environment makes you to sweat more, which causes your body to need more water than usual.
- When engaging in physical activity, especially in the heat, stay away from alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Your chance of dehydration rises as a result of the caffeine.
- Try to avoid performing outdoor activities in the direct sunlight and at the hottest periods of the day.
- When performing outdoor activities in the heat, wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. A hat with a wide brim will block the sun from your face and keep you cooler.
- Take cooler baths or shower to help cool you down.
- When working or exercising in the heat, take frequent breaks. This includes sports and outdoor activities like hiking.
- Never leave anyone inside a locked and switched off idling vehicle, especially children, infants, adults, or pets. Even in mild weather, the temperature inside a closed car can rise extremely quickly. Consequently, heat-related diseases may result.
- Your risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion might be decreased by making a plan in advance for outdoor activities in hot weather.