Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

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Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Heatstroke occurs when your body overheats due to exposure to high temperatures or due to physical exertion in high temperatures. Heatstroke is a serious condition in which your body’s temperature increases to 104˚F or higher. It requires emergency treatment and if untreated, can cause harm to your brain, kidneys, heart and muscles. (Mayo Clinic, 2020)

There is a spike in heatstroke in the summer months and ways of avoiding these sun-related conditions, especially for children are proper clothing, hydration, using sunscreen with adequate SPF and rest periods. (Children’s Health)

Heat Exhaustion

Another heat-related condition, heat exhaustion also occurs when your body overheats, but it is slightly less severe than heatstroke. The symptoms of heat exhaustion are:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale and clammy skin despite the heat
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness, tiredness, or weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fast and weak pulse

In the event you are a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Move to a cool, shaded place
  • Drink cold fluids that contain salt
  • Apply cold, wet towel or cloth to your skin
  • In the case of cramps, gently stretch or massage the muscles (Children’s Health)

For children, the risk of heat exhaustion increases in the following cases:

  • When they are obese or overweight
  • They have a sunburn
  • They are sick
  • They are taking certain medications

Symptoms of Heatstroke

The longer treatment is delayed for heatstroke, the worse it gets, increasing the chances of serious health complications. The symptoms are:

  • High Body Temperature
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Changes in Sweating – When heatstroke occurs due to hot weather, your skin will be hot and dry. In the case of heatstroke by exertion, your skin might feel moist 
  • Flushed Skin
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Racing heart rate
  • Mental Disorientation – Heatstroke can result in agitation, confusion, irritability, slurred speech, delirium, seizures, and coma
  • A throbbing headache

(Mayo Clinic, 2020)

Symptoms of Heatstroke in Children

In the case of heatstroke in children, their body creates more heat than it can release which increases the body temperature and can lead to brain damage or death if not treated immediately. The symptoms in children are:

  • Body temperature rises to above 104˚F
  • Absence of sweating
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Severe headache
  • Seizures
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Flushed, hot and dry skin
  • Loss of consciousness

For symptoms, seek emergency medical care immediately and take following actions as soon as possible:

  • Take your child indoors and undress them
  • Cool them rapidly by submerging them in a cold water bath
  • Apply cold water towels on the body if a bath is not possible
  • Avoid giving them fluids unless your child is conscious or alert

Prevention of Heatstroke

Heatstroke can be prevented easily as it is quite predictable in the summer months. Take the following steps to prevent heatstroke:

  • Protect against sunburn: Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down. Avoid sunburn at all costs by using sunscreen with SPF, wearing sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats when outdoors. (Mayo Clinic, 2020)
  • Drink plenty of fluids: Hydration is of utmost importance during hot weather to replace fluids lost by sweating and to maintain a normal body temperature. (Newman, 2017). If you are outside and your child is not urinating normally, chances are they are dehydrated. A dry diaper is a sign of dehydration.  
  • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes: Excess clothing or tight clothing will not let your body cool down properly, making you more prone to heatstroke or heat exhaustion. (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Wear light-colored clothing as white reflects the sun and dark colors absorb the heat.
  • Take extra precautions for certain medications: If any medication affects your ability to hydrate or dissipate heat, be cautious of getting heat-related conditions like heatstroke. (Mayo Clinic, 2020)

  • Parked Cars: A common cause of heat-related deaths among children in parked cars in the sun. The temperature can rise over 20˚F in your car in 10 minutes. It is not safe to leave anyone in a parked car in the sun, even if the windows are cracked open. (Newman, 2017)

In the case of heatstroke, the treatment involves immersion in cold water, cold water mist for evaporation, cooling blankets and ice packs to lower the body temperature and muscle relaxants to avoid shivering due to the cold treatments. Do seek emergency care immediately and stay cool and hydrated through the summer months. (Newman, 2017)

Know Where to Go in an Emergency

If enjoying family fun in the sun, stay conscious of hydration, use sunscreen and find shade to rest in. Sports should be played in early mornings or evenings to avoid the high heat of the afternoon sun. Even if it’s overcast, the heat can still create heat related illness. Be sure to know where the closest emergency room is located when participating in sports and school activities. Watch for symptoms as relayed in this informative article and make your way to medical help if symptoms become critical.

Enjoy the summer and our outdoor spaces. Keep an eye on little ones and older adults. Remember we are here for you whenever you need us.


Works Cited

Health, Children’s. Signs of Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke in Kids – Children’s Health, Children’s Health, www.childrens.com/health-wellness/heat-stroke-symptoms-in-children.

“Heatstroke.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 18 Aug. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heat-stroke/symptoms-causes/syc-20353581. Newman, Tim. “Heatstroke: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 2017, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266551.

# Tags:
Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke, Heatstroke in Children, Pediatric Fever
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