Serious injury can happen when your body gets too hot. This is why sun and heat stroke symptoms should never be taken lightly. There are many symptoms that are associated with a heat injury. The symptoms range from mild to life-threatening. As we get ready to go into the spring and summer months it is important to know the warning signs of heat stroke before it is too late.
Heat Cramp Symptoms
Heat cramps are the first stage of heat injury. The cramps are severe and sometimes disabling. They typically happen in the hands, calves and or feet.
Heat Cramps Treatment
While heat cramps will usually go away on their own, they should still be taken seriously.
- Stop outdoor activity
- Rest indoors or a cool place
- Drink a sports drink with electrolytes
- Drink water
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms
Heat exhaustion is the second category of a heat injury. This is more severe than heat cramps and less threatening than heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion symptoms can include:
- Excessive Thirst
- Muscle aches
- Cold Clammy Skin
While some of the symptoms of heat exhaustion look like heat cramp symptoms. There are typically more symptoms and the person suffering the heat injury is sweating profusely.
Heat Exhaustion Treatment
If you encounter someone experiencing heat exhaustion it is important to get them resting cool place. If there is not access to an air conditioned building then shade with a fan will work. You also want to have them drink cool fluids like sports drinks and water.
If there is access to water allow them to take a cool shower, a cool bath, or place cold towels on their body.
Remember since confusion is a heat exhaustion symptom you do not want to leave them alone in the water!
Heat Stroke Symptoms
Heat stroke can occur rapidly and without any symptoms of the previous categories of heat injury. One moment the person may seem fine and the next they have heat stroke. Here are the most common symptoms of heat stroke:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Rapid Heart Rate
- Shortness of Breath
- Blood in Urine or Stool
- Increased Body Temp
- Loss of Consciousness
Heat Stroke Treatment
If you see someone with heat stroke symptoms you should immediately call 911 and get emergency medicine on the way. This is a life-threatening condition and could result in brain injury or death.
While you are waiting for EMS to arrive on the scene you can assist with some first responder medicine.
- Place them in a cool tub of water or a cool shower. A pool or pond will also work if you are outdoors.
- Spray with a garden hose if you do not have access to any other water.
- Sponge with cool water.
- Place ice packs and cold towels on the neck, armpits and inner thighs.
- Cover in cold damp towels or sheets.
- Allow them to drink cold water if they can.
The key to treating someone who has heat stroke symptoms is to get their body temperature to drop. The human body begins to suffer brain damage at temperatures above 106*F.
Heat Injury Prevention
Injuries due to heat are very serious and should be avoided at all costs. Instead of being vigilant for symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, it is important to take steps in preventing heat injury from occurring in the first place.
- Drink Plenty of Water and Drinks with Electrolytes.
- If you begin to get too hot cool yourself off with water.
- Wear lightweight and light colored clothing.
- Exercise early morning or when the sun has gone down
- Take breaks in the shade.
While it is not always possible to prevent heat stroke. Taking these steps can go a long way in helping reduce your risk.
If you do see someone with symptoms of a heat injury please take steps to reduce their risk of developing heat stroke. The elderly, children, outside workers, and people with disabilities are at an increased risk of heat-related deaths.
Early intervention could save a life!
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