5 Signs and Symptoms of a Heat-Related Illness and Heat Stroke
The following checklist can help you recognize the symptoms of heat-related
- Heat Rash: Heat rash looks like a red cluster of pimples or
- Heat cramps: Symptoms are painful muscle
spasms in the arms, legs, or abdomen
- Heat syncope (fainting): Symptoms of heat syncope or fainting are
- Heat exhaustion is a warning that the body is getting too hot.
- Heat stroke is a serious, life-threatening condition that occurs when the body loses its ability to control its temperature.
Quick GuideDehydration: Causes, Symptoms & Tips to Stay Hydrated
What is heat stroke?
- Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia in which the body temperature is elevated dramatically.
- Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not promptly and properly treated.
- The cause of heat stroke is an elevation in body temperature, often accompanied by dehydration.
- Symptoms of heat stroke can include
- Heat stroke is diagnosed by observation of the symptoms and signs in a person exposed to extreme temperatures.
- Heat stroke is treated by cooling the victim is a critical step in the treatment of heat stroke. Always notify emergency services immediately if heat stroke is suspected.
- The most important measures to prevent heat strokes are to avoid becoming dehydrated and to avoid vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather.
- Infants, the elderly, athletes, and outdoor workers are the groups at greatest risk for heat stroke.
- Leaving infants, children, or animals in cars poses a risk for heat stroke. Even in moderate weather, the temperature inside a closed car can reach dangerous levels.
What is, and who is at risk for heat stroke?
Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia or heat-related illness,
elevated body temperature
with accompanying physical symptoms including changes in the nervous system
Unlike heat cramps and heat exhaustion, two
other forms of hyperthermia
that are less severe,
heat stroke is a true
medical emergency that is often fatal if not properly and promptly treated.
Heat stroke is also sometimes referred to as heatstroke or sun stroke. Severe
hyperthermia is defined as a body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher.
The body normally generates heat as a result of
metabolism, and is usually able to dissipate the heat by radiation of heat through
the skin or by evaporation of sweat. However, in extreme heat, high humidity, or vigorous
physical exertion under the sun, the body may not be able to sufficiently dissipate the heat and the
body temperature rises, sometimes up to 106 F (41.1 C) or higher.
Another cause of heat stroke is
dehydration. A dehydrated person may not be able
to sweat fast enough to dissipate heat, which causes the body temperature to
Heat stroke is not the same as a stroke. "Stroke"
is the general term used to describe decreased oxygen flow to an area of the
Those most susceptible (at risk) individuals to heat stroke include:
- The elderly (often with associated heart diseases, lung diseases, kidney
diseases, or who are taking medications that make them vulnerable to
dehydration and heat strokes)
- Individuals who work outside and physically exert themselves under the
- Infants, children, or pets left in cars.
Heat stroke is sometimes classified as exertional heat stroke (EHS, which is
due to overexertion in hot weather) or non-exertional heat stroke (NEHS, which
occurs in climactic extremes and affects the elderly, infants, and chronically
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/6/2016