10 Recognizable Signs & Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Regarded as a medical emergency, heat stroke can lead to organ damage and even death. Often the final stage of progressive heat-related sensations, heat stroke can sometimes strike without any previous symptoms of heat injury. To make sure you or a loved one gets timely help when needed, learn the most common signs of heat stroke.
What Is Heat Stroke?
Often occurring alongside dehydration, heat stroke occurs when the body’s core temperature exceeds 105 degrees Fahrenheit. When this happens, the central nervous system is unable to function effectively, resulting in everything from brain damage to organ failure to death.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
While body temperature provides a definitive sign of heat stroke, fainting is often the first symptom. Other telltale signals include:
- Intense headache
- Light-headedness or dizziness
- Lack of sweat
- Hot, dry or red skin
- Muscle cramps or weakness
- Vomiting or nausea
- Weak or rapid heartbeat
- Shallow, rapid breathing
- Staggering, disorientation or confusion
Without proper attention, heat stroke can result in life-altering or life-ending consequences. If you see someone exhibiting symptoms of heat stroke, call 911 or immediately take the person to the emergency room. While you are waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, employ the following strategies to bring the person’s core temperature down.
- Move the person to a cool, shady area.
- Remove unnecessary clothing.
- Wet the person’s skin.
- Fan the person.
- Apply ice packs to the neck, groin, armpits and back.
- Immerse the person in a tub of cool water.
Preventing Heat Stroke
The risk of heat-related health problems significantly increases when the heat index exceeds 90 degrees. To reduce your risk of heat stroke, stay inside during daytime temperatures. If you must go outside, be sure to drink plenty of water or sports drinks to prevent dehydration. You should also talk to your doctor to find out if any of your current medications might leave you at a higher risk of heat stroke.