Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two potentially serious conditions that can occur if you get too hot.
Heat exhaustion is where you become very hot and start to lose water or salt from your body, which leads to the symptoms listed below and generally feeling unwell. If heat exhaustion isn’t spotted and treated early on, there’s a risk it could lead to heat stroke.
Heat stroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures.
It requires emergency treatment. Untreated heat stroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.
SIGNS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT STROKE
According to Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat strok may include:
- Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma
- High body temperature – 104 F (40 C) or higher
- Nausea and vomiting
- Alteration in sweating
- Your breathing may become rapid and shallow
- Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases
- Headache – your head may throb
- Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body
What to do:
If you notice that someone has signs of heat exhaustion, you should:
- remove any unnecessary clothing to expose as much of their skin as possible
- get them to lie down in a cool place – somewhere in the shade
- fan their skin while it’s moist
- cool their skin – use whatever you have available, such as a cool, wet sponge or flannel, cold packs around the neck and armpits, or wrap them in a cool, wet sheet
- Stay with the person until they’re feeling better. Most people should start to recover within 30 minutes (NHS Choices).
- get them to drink fluids – this should ideally be water
When to call a doctor
If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. You should call 911 for an ambulance if:
- the person has severe symptoms, such as a loss of consciousness, confusion or seizures.
- the person doesn’t respond to the above treatment within 30 minutes