Recognizing the Signs of Heat Stroke

What is Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke occurs when your core body temperature exceeds 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This can happen when you are exposed to high temperatures for a prolonged period of time—usually in combination with dehydration

When Does Heat Stroke Happen?

Heat stroke can happen when your body is exposed to extremely hot temperatures, for example on a hike, during a day at the beach, in a house with no cooling mechanism, or exercising.

Common Symptoms of Heat Stroke

One of the first signs of heat stroke is fainting, but other symptoms may include:

  • Persistent, throbbing headache
  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Cramps or muscle weakness
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Red, flushed or abnormally dry skin
  • Rapid heartbeat (weak or strong)
  • Shallow or rapid breathing

If you suspect that someone is suffering from heat stroke, the first thing you should do is call 911. If left untreated, heat stroke can lead to serious organ damage or even death. Although heat stroke most commonly affects people over the age of 50, it is also possible for young, healthy adults to be affected. For this reason, it is important that you are able to recognize the potential warning signs.

If you think that someone is experiencing heat stroke, you need to call for help. The situation could take a dangerous turn if a medical professional is not involved immediately. While you wait for emergency services to arrive, you should get the person inside or under shade. You should also try to cool the person down in any way possible—either by splashing with water or getting the in the tub.

Who is at risk for heat stroke?

There are many risk factors that could contribute to heat stroke, including your age. If you are over 50, your chances of experiencing heat stroke are increased—especially if you are battling a chronic illness like heart disease. Other risk factors include sudden exposure to hot weather and dehydration. If you are traveling to a warmer climate, you should allow your body to acclimate and limit activity.

When planning your summer activities, don’t forget to bring plenty of water!

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician.

If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.