Recognizing the Signs of Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion

Recognizing the Signs of Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion

By Mike Conroy. CREATED Jul 3, 2012

GREEN BAY, Wis.--As Northeast Wisconsin bakes under a hot summer sun, doctors warn those heading outside to be aware of heat related health problems that could become life threatening.

According to WebMD.com, Heat Exhaustion can set in after you've been exposed to high temperatures for several days and have developed dehydration, which is an inadequate or imbalanced replacement of the fluids and electrolytes you've lost through excessive perspiration.

Symptoms include: Confusion, Dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headache, muscle cramps, nausea, pale skin, profuse sweating and rapid heartbeat.


If you or anyone else has symptoms of heat exhaustion, it's essential to immediately get out of the heat and rest, preferably in an air-conditioned environment. If you can't get inside, try to find the nearest cool and shady place.

Other recommended strategies include:

  • Drink plenty of non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Remove any tight or unnecessary clothing.
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
  • Apply other active cooling measures such as fans or ice towels.

Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury, and is a medical emergency. If you suspect that someone has heat stroke -- also known as sunstroke -- you should call 911 immediately and render first aid until paramedics arrive.


WebMD.com says Heat Stroke can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. It mainly affects people over age 50 and can take a toll on young athletes as well.

Symptoms include: A core body temperature above 105 degrees and fainting can be the first sign of trouble. You should look for other symptoms such as: Throbbing headache, dizziness or light-handedness, red ,hot and dry skin and behavior changes like confusion, disorientation or staggering.


If you suspect that someone has a heat stroke, immediately call 911 or transport the person to a hospital. Any delay seeking medical help can be fatal.

While waiting for the paramedics to arrive, initiate first aid. Move the person to an air-conditioned environment -- or at least a cool, shady area -- and remove any unnecessary clothing.

If possible, take the person's core body temperature and initiate first aid to cool it to 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. If no thermometers are available, don't hesitate to initiate first aid.

You may also try these cooling strategies:

  • Fan air over the patient while wetting his or her skin with water from a sponge or garden hose.
  • Apply ice packs to the patient's armpits, groin, neck, and back. Because these areas are rich with blood vessels close to the skin, cooling them may reduce body temperature.
  • Immerse the patient in a shower or tub of cool water, or an ice bath.

If emergency response is delayed, call the hospital emergency room for additional instructions.

For more information, go to WebMD.com