5 Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Imagine you’re on vacation with your spouse at a beautiful beach. Both of you decide to go for a long walk in the late afternoon. Great idea, but bad timing. The long walk lasted longer than expected, and you forgot your water bottle. It's 1 pm, and the scorching heat isn’t helping. The next thing you know, your spouse falls unconscious.  Your partner just had a heatstroke.

Let us first understand what a heatstroke is.

Heat stroke is the most severe type of heat injury and is treated as a medical emergency. If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke, also known as sunstroke, call an ambulance immediately and provide immediate assistance until paramedics arrive. Heat stroke can be fatal or severely damage the brain and other internal organs. Although heat stroke primarily affects people over the age of 50, it can also harm healthy young athletes.

Heat stroke frequently develops because of a series of milder heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting), and heat exhaustion. It can, however, strike even if you have no history of heat injury. Heat stroke is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures, usually in conjunction with dehydration, which causes the body’s temperature control system to fail.

Heat stroke is defined as a core body temperature of more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures. Nausea, seizures, confusion, disorientation, and, in rare cases, loss of consciousness or coma are also common symptoms.

 What are the Types of Heat Strokes?

Heatstroke is classified into two types:

Exertional heatstroke: This type of heatstroke is typically caused by physical exertion in hot, humid conditions. It can happen in a matter of hours.

Non-exertional heatstroke: Also known as classic heatstroke, it can occur because of age or underlying health conditions. It usually takes several days to develop.

 How Common is a Heatstroke?

According to studies, approximately 20 out of every 100,000 people in the United States suffer from heatstroke each year. It is most common in cities during extremely hot weather. Heatstroke kills between 240 and 833 people in the United States each year.

 Reason for Heatstrokes

Heatstroke occurs when your body is unable to cool itself. Your core body temperature is controlled by your hypothalamus (a part of your brain that regulates many bodily functions). It usually sets your thermostat to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). However, if your body absorbs more heat than it emits, your internal temperature rises above this set point.

 What are the Symptoms and Signs of Heatstroke?

Heatstroke is a serious health problem. Fainting may be the first sign. Call the emergency services immediately if you or someone you know exhibits any of the following signs or symptoms –

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Seizures
  • Skin that is red, hot, and dry

 What is the Treatment for a Heatstroke?

Heatstroke necessitates immediate medical attention. While you wait for an ambulance, try to keep the person as cool as possible by:

  • Using ice packs to relieve pain in the neck, groin, and armpits.
  • Encouraging them to consume slightly salted liquids, such as sports drinks or salted water.
  • Allowing them to rest in a cool, shady, well-ventilated area.
  • If possible, immersing them in cool water.
  • Misting them with water and blowing air over them (evaporative cooling).
  • Monitoring their breathing and removing any airway obstructions.
  • Taking off any clothing that is too tight or too heavy.

 How can Heatstroke Be Avoided?

In most cases, heatstroke can be avoided by:

  • Avoiding strenuous physical activity in hot and humid weather.
  • Consuming sports drinks, lightly salted water, or broth in extreme weather conditions.
  • Allowing your body to gradually acclimate to warm temperatures over several weeks if you will be in hot conditions for work or sports.
  • Never leaving children (or pets) in enclosed, hot environments such as cars.
  • During heat waves, staying in air-conditioned or well-ventilated areas.
  • If you'll be out in the heat, dressing in lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing.

Victims of heatstroke need immediate help, which can be done by anyone who knows first aid and CPR. Wouldn’t it feel great to help someone in such a  situation? Get certified in CPR and First Aid with MYCPR Now.

CPR + First Aid Certification
Back to blog