Keep your family healthy when temperatures rise by knowing the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Heat exhaustion results from the body overheating after excessive physical activity or exposure to high temperatures (with high humidity levels). Infants, children younger than 4 and adults older than 65 are at a higher risk for heat exhaustion. Scott Freedman, M.D., medical director of the pediatric emergency department at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, notes the following symptoms:
- Heavy sweating
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Muscle cramps
“If you notice any of these symptoms, particularly in young children or the elderly, stop activity and move to a cooler place immediately,” Dr. Freedman says. “Provide the person with water to drink, and if the symptoms continue or worsen over the next 60 minutes, contact a doctor or seek care at the closest emergency room.”
When the body’s temperature rises above 104 degrees, a potentially fatal condition called heatstroke may be the cause. When temperatures are high, engaging in strenuous activities and extended exposure to heat can cause heatstroke. Young children and the elderly are at high risk. Experts suggest seeking immediate medical care if the following symptoms appear:
- High body temperature (104 degrees or higher), the main indicator
- Lack of sweating
- Racing heart and strong pulse
- Neurological symptoms including seizures and loss of consciousness
- Muscle cramps or weakness
Heatstroke is a serious and life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. If left untreated, heatstroke can lead to brain damage, organ failure and death.