Heat-Related Illness

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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,heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat syncope, and heat rash.
  • 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 an elevated body temperature, headache, nausea, weakness, dizziness, fainting, muscle cramps, seizures, confusion, and coma.
  • 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?

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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. Likewise, in the summer of 2003, tens of thousands of people died in Europe from an extreme heat wave. Most recently, 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. High temperatures put people at risk.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/23/2014

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Heat-Related Illness - Causes Question: What are the triggers or causes of your heat-related illness? How do you avoid these triggers?
Heat-Related Illness - Prevention Question: If you are prone to heat-related illness, how do you prevent an occurrence?
Heat-Related Illness - Risk Question: Share your experience with heat-related illness risk.
Heat-Related Illness - Symptoms Question: What were your symptoms associated with a heat-related illness?
Heat-Related Illness - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with heat-related illness.

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

5 Ways to Recognize a Heat-Related Illness

The following checklist can help you recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses:

  1. Heat Rash: Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather. It can occur at any age but is most common in young children. Heat rash looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters....

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