Heat Illness Symptoms

Anyone can suffer from a heat-related illness. Those at greater risk include infants and young children, people 65 or older, and those who are already ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.

Heat Stroke


Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.

Symptoms

  • Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness (coma)
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Seizures
  • Very high body temperature
  • Fatal if treatment delayed
Take the following steps to treat a person with heat stroke:
  • Call 911 for emergency medical care.
  • Stay with person until emergency medical services arrive.
  • Move the person to a shaded, cool area and remove outer clothing.
  • Cool the person quickly with a cold water or ice bath if possible; wet the skin, place cold wet cloths on skin, or soak clothing with cool water.
  • Circulate the air around the person to speed cooling.
  • Place cold wet cloths or ice on head, neck, armpits, and groin; or soak the clothing with cool water.

Heat Exhaustion


Heat exhaustion is the body's response to an excessive loss of the water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. persons most prone to heat exhaustion are those that are elderly, have high blood pressure, and those working in a hot environment.

Symptoms
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Heavy sweating
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Decreased urine output
Treat a person suffering from heat exhaustion with the following:
  • Take person to a clinic or emergency room for medical evaluation and treatment.
  • If medical care is unavailable, call 911.
  • Someone should stay with person until help arrives.
  • Remove person from hot area and give liquids to drink.
  • Remove unnecessary clothing, including shoes and socks.
  • Cool the person with cold compresses or have the person wash head, face, and neck with cold water.
  • Encourage frequent sips of cool water.

Rhabdomyolysis


Rhabdomyolysis is a medical condition associated with heat stress and prolonged physical exertion, resulting in the rapid breakdown, rupture, and death of muscle. When muscle tissue dies, electrolytes and large proteins are released into the bloodstream that can cause irregular heart rhythms and seizures, and damage the kidneys.

Symptoms
  • Muscle cramps/pain
  • Abnormally dark (tea or cola colored) urine
  • Weakness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Asymptomatic
Persons with symptoms of rhabdomyolysis should:
  • Stop activity.
  • Increase oral hydration (water preferred).
  • Seek immediate care at the nearest medical facility.
  • Ask to be checked for rhabdomyolysis (i.e., blood sample analyzed for creatine kinase).

Heat Syncope


Heat syncope is a fainting (syncope) episode or dizziness that usually occurs with prolonged standing or sudden rising from a sitting or lying position. Factors that may contribute to heat syncope include dehydration and lack of acclimatization.

Symptoms
  • Fainting (short duration)
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness during prolonged standing or suddenly rising from a sitting or lying position
Persons with heat syncope should:
  • Sit or lie down in a cool place.
  • Slowly drink water, clear juice, or a sports drink.

Heat Cramps


Heat cramps usually affect persons who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. This sweating depletes the body's salt and moisture levels. Low salt levels in muscles causes painful cramps. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion.

Symptoms
  • Muscle cramps, pain, or spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs
Persons with heat cramps should:
  • Drink water and have a snack and/or carbohydrate-electrolyte replacement liquid (e.g., sports drinks) every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Avoid salt tablets.
  • Get medical help if the person has heart problems, is on a low sodium diet, or if cramps do not subside within 1 hour.

Heat Rash


Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather.

Symptoms
  • Red cluster of pimples or small blisters
  • Usually appears on the neck, upper chest, groin, under the breasts, and in elbow creases
Persons experiencing heat rash should:
  • When possible, a cooler, less humid environment is best treatment.
  • Keep rash area dry.
  • Powder may be applied to increase comfort.
  • Ointments and creams should not be used.
Heat Illness Person Sweating