As the temperature rises during the summer months, it is important to be aware of the signs of heat-related illnesses. According to the CDC, every year, there are nearly 70,000 emergency room visits in the United States due to heat. Heat stroke is a severe condition that requires immediate attention. Recognizing the warning signs can help prevent a life-threatening situation and allow for timely medical assistance. Emerson’s Emergency Department recommends you seek immediate medical care if you or someone you know shows any of these signs of heat stroke:
1. Elevated Body Temperature:
One of the most obvious signs of heat stroke is a high body temperature, typically exceeding 103°F (39°C). If you or someone around you exhibits a sudden increase in temperature accompanied by hot, flushed skin, it could be a sign of heat stroke. Pay close attention to unusual behavior or discomfort accompanying the elevated temperature.
2. Profuse Sweating or Sudden Stop in Sweating:
Heat stroke can cause disruption to the body's natural cooling system. While sweating is your body's way to regulate temperature, excessive sweating followed by a sudden stop in sweating is a sign of heat stroke. If this happens, the person should seek an air-conditioned space and drink water.
3. Rapid Heart Rate and Breathing:
Heat stroke stresses your cardiovascular system. An accelerated heart rate and increased breathing rate are common signs of the body struggling to cope with excessive heat. If you observe someone experiencing a racing heart or rapid, shallow breaths, it could be a sign that their body is having difficulty regulating.
4. Nausea and Vomiting:
People suffering from heat stroke may experience digestive distress. Nausea, vomiting, and even diarrhea can occur as a result of the body's internal systems becoming overwhelmed by the heat. If someone complains of feeling sick or exhibits signs of gastrointestinal discomfort, it is important to consider the possibility of heat stroke.
5. Dizziness and Confusion:
Extreme heat can lead to cognitive impairment. If a person becomes confused, disoriented, or experiences sudden dizziness, it may indicate heat stroke. Watch for slurred speech, difficulty concentrating, or changes in behavior, as these symptoms provide valuable clues.
6. Seizures or Loss of Consciousness:
In severe cases, heat stroke can lead to seizures or loss of consciousness. If an individual collapses or convulses, seek immediate medical assistance. Prompt intervention increases the chance of a full recovery.
Heat stroke is a dangerous condition that requires swift recognition and immediate action. Being aware of the telltale signs can save lives. During the summer months, stay hydrated, seek shade or air-conditioned environments when it is hot, and avoid prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Vigilance and timely intervention are key when it comes to combating heat stroke and ensuring a safe and healthy summer..