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Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Definition

Heat exhaustion is when the body overheats when you are too active in hot temperatures. Heat stroke is a more severe illness that can be life-threatening.

Causes

Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke happen under the following conditions:

Risk Factors

Young children and older adults are at increased risk for heat exhaustion.
Factors that may increase your risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke include:

Symptoms

Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include:
Symptoms of heat stroke may include:

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
Your heart activity may be measured. This can be done with an electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG).
ECG / EKG Wave
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Treatment

Heat Exhaustion

Treatment for heat exhaustion includes:
  • Moving the person to a cool, shady area
  • Giving adequate fluids—it is best to give fluids that contain both salt and sugar. If the person isn't able to drink, it may be necessary to give fluids through by IV.
  • Encouraging the person to rest

Heat Stroke

Treatment for heat stroke includes:
Treatment for heat stroke includes:

Prevention

To help prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

RESOURCES

American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://www.familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Red Cross http://www.redcross.ca

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

References

Heat exhaustion. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 22, 2013. Accessed September 30, 2014.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/staying-healthy/first-aid/heat-exhaustion-an-heatstroke.html. Updated December 2010. Accessed September 30, 2014.

Heatstroke. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 9, 2013. Accessed September 30, 2014.

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