Heat-Related Illness

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • 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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Did You Know You Could Die From a Heat-Related Illness?

5 Ways to Recognize a Heat-Related Illness

In all heat-related illnesses, the symptoms appear when a person is exposed to extreme temperatures. The following checklist can help you recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses:

  1. Heat Rash: Heat rash looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters.
  2. Heat cramps: Symptoms are painful muscle spasms in the arms, legs, or abdomen
  3. Heat syncope (fainting): Symptoms of heat syncope or fainting are

Quick GuideDehydration Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Symptoms and Tips to Stay Hydrated

Dehydration Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Symptoms and Tips to Stay Hydrated

Heat-related illness facts

  • Hyperthermia is overheating of the body.
  • Heat-related illness occurs as a result of heat exposure.
  • Heat-related illnesses include
  • Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat-related illness, and requires immediate medical attention.
  • Certain individuals, such as the elderly, infants and young children, the obese, outdoor workers, and those with chronic medical conditions are at increased risk for developing heat-related illness.
  • Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness vary based on the condition, but may include
  • Treatment for heat-related illness generally includes moving the individual out of the hot environment, implementing cooling measures as needed, rest, and rehydration.
  • Prevention of heat-related illness is best accomplished through proper planning and preparation, such as increasing fluid intake, wearing appropriate clothing and sunscreen, remaining in a cool environment, acclimating yourself to the hot environment, and using common sense.

What is a heat-related illness?

A heat-related illness is a medical condition that may occur as a result of heat exposure. Even short periods of high temperatures can cause serious health problems. Heat-related illness encompasses a spectrum of conditions that range from minor illnesses to life-threatening medical emergencies. There are several heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting), and heat rash.

Summer can bring heat waves with unusually high temperatures that can last for days and sometimes weeks.

  • According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 7,415 death due to heat-related illness in the United States from 1999 to 2010, or an average of approximately 618 death per year.
  • Heat waves lead to more deaths annually in the United States than tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes combined.
  • In the summer of 1980, a severe heat wave hit the United States, and approximately 1,700 people lost their lives from heat-related illness; and in the summer of 2003, tens of thousands of people died in Europe from an extreme heat wave.
  • The summer of 2012 heat wave in the United States led to many heat-related deaths, and numerous all-time high temperature records were broken throughout the United States.
  • Most recently, a summer heat wave in Pakistan in 2015 led to more than 1,000 fatalities.
  • High temperatures put people at risk.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2015
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