Heat Stroke

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What about heat stroke in children?

While the elderly are at greatest risk for heat stroke, infants and children are also at risk. In particular, infants or young children who are unattended in locked a car may suffer heat-related illness quickly, since the indoor temperature of a locked car can rise to dangerous levels even in moderate weather. Rarely, infants have died of heat stroke when overly bundled in their cribs. It is critically important that parents understand the medical dangers inherent in leaving children unattended in cars in addition to the obvious safety risks. Further, cars should always be kept locked when not in use so that children may not enter them and become trapped.

Among older children and teens, heat stroke or heat-related illness is a risk for athletes who train in hot environmental conditions. Among reported heat-related illnesses in U.S. high school athletes, the majority of cases occur in football players during the month of August.

How do you treat a heat stroke victim?

Victims of heat stroke must receive immediate treatment to avoid permanent organ damage. First and foremost, cool the victim.

  • Get the victim to a shady area, remove clothing, apply cool or tepid water to the skin (for example, you may spray the person with cool water from a garden hose), fan the victim to promote sweating and evaporation, and place ice packs under the armpits and groin.
  • If the person is able to drink liquids, have them drink cool water or other cool beverages that do not contain alcohol or caffeine.
  • Monitor body temperature with a thermometer and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101 to 102 F (38.3 to 38.8 C).
  • Always notify emergency services (911) immediately. If their arrival is delayed, they can give you further instructions for treatment of the victim.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/29/2015
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