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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Quick GuideDehydration: Causes, Symptoms and Tips to Stay Hydrated

Dehydration: Causes, Symptoms and Tips to Stay Hydrated

Who is at risk of heat-related illness?

Those at greatest risk of heat-related illness include:

  • infants and children up to four years of age,
  • people 65 years of age or older,
  • people who are overweight,
  • people who overexert during outdoor work or exercise,
  • people with mental illness, and
  • people who are chronically ill or on certain medications.

Infants and children up to four years of age are very sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environment and to provide adequate fluid intake. Moreover, they have a higher metabolic rate and inefficient sweating compared to adults.

People 65 years of age or older may not compensate for heat stress efficiently, and are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. The elderly population also is at a higher risk because they usually have other pre-existing medical conditions, and they often take medications that can make them more vulnerable to dehydration (for example, diuretics).

Overweight individuals may be prone to heat-related illness because of their tendency to retain more body heat.

Any health condition that causes dehydration makes the body more susceptible to heat-related illness. If you or someone you know is at higher risk, it is important to drink plenty of fluids, avoid overexertion, and get your doctor or pharmacist's advice about medications being taken for:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2015

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