Heat Exhaustion vs Heat Stroke: What You Need to Know

heat exhaustion vs heat stroke

Since the 1960s, extreme heat is more common than extreme cold. We’re dealing with unprecedented — and dangerous — high temperatures.

Sunburns are bad enough, but you also have to worry about heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Not sure what the difference is between them? It’s important to spot the differences and stay safe in the sun.

Here we’re going to break down the difference between heat exhaustion vs heat stroke. Keep reading so you can avert a medical crisis before it’s too late!

Levels of Heat-Related Sickness

There are several levels of heat-related sickness. Here are the least — but no less dangerous — severe illnesses:

  • Heat rash: small red bumps or blisters that look like pimples
  • Sunburn: skin is red and painful to the touch, might be blistered
  • Heat cramps: Muscle cramps and spasms usually associated with exercise

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the two most severe heat-related illnesses. Let’s look at the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke and what you should do in each case.

Heat Exhaustion

When you sweat, you lose salt, which your muscles need to function. You dehydrate, too.

When feeling hot goes too far, you’re at risk of heat exhaustion. Here are the symptoms to look for:

  • Clammy, pale skin
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Fast pulse, rapid heart rate
  • Vomiting and nausea

What should you do if you or someone else has heat exhaustion? Keep reading!

Steps to Stop Heath Exhaustion

You can stop heat exhaustion before it turns into heat stroke. Here’s what to do:

  • Use cold compresses
  • Take a cold shower
  • Get inside with A/C
  • Drink fluids
  • Remove tight clothes

If symptoms get worse or if vomiting continues, it’s important to get to a doctor. Let’s look at the signs of heat stroke, the most severe illness, next.

Heat Stroke

Some people move through the other stages of heat-related illness before they have heat stroke. Other’s don’t so make sure you keep an eye out for these symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Losing consciousness
  • Heart beating fast and hard
  • Fever, high body temperature
  • Red, warm skin

If someone has heat stroke, move them to a cool place immediately. Apply a cool compress and call 911 right away.

Don’t give them anything cold to drink as it can cause cramping. If you do give them liquid, make sure it’s room temperature and not sugary or caffeinated.

Heat stroke can cause brain damage and ultimately be fatal. It’s important to act quickly.

Heat Exhaustion VS Heat Stroke: Stay Safe in the Sun

As you can see, knowing the difference between heat exhaustion vs heat stroke can save a life. It typically affects the elderly, children, or those with chronic illnesses but it can happen to anyone.

Playing outside and enjoying the sunshine is a great way to have fun over the weekend. The important thing is that you do it safely and know how to spot an emergency.

Now you know what to look for and can prevent an emergency before it goes from bad to worse. Be proactive — know where your closest urgent care clinic is before emergency strikes!

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