Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
- Very hot environment
- Heavy activity
- Too little fluid and salt intake
- Participating in a job or activity that involves long periods of outdoor activity in hot weather
- Age: elderly or the very young
Taking drugs that interfere with the way your body handles hot weather, including:
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Temperature over 37.8°C (about 100°F)
- Low blood pressure
- Fast pulse
- Moist skin, sweating
- Muscle cramps and tenderness
- Nausea, vomiting
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Blood tests
- Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) —a test that records the heart's activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle
|ECG / EKG Wave|
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- Moving the person to a cool, shady area
- Giving adequate fluids—it is best to give fluids that contain both salt and sugar. If the person isn't able to drink, it may be necessary to give fluids through an intravenous line.
- Encouraging the person to rest
- Removing clothing
- Moving the person to a cool, shady area.
- Actively cooling the person—the most effective way is called "evaporative cooling." In evaporative cooling, the person is sponged with cool water or sprayed with cool mist, and fans are used to blow air onto the person.
- Giving intravenous fluids
- Giving medications—these may be necessary if the person is having seizures or uncontrollable shivering.
- Careful monitoring—People who have undergone heat stroke need regular and careful monitoring of body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. Blood tests will be repeated at regular intervals to monitor how the body's organs are responding to the shock of heat stroke.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to high temperatures.
- If you have to work or exercise under hot conditions, drink lots of fluids (preferably sports drinks, which contain both salt and sugar), and take frequent breaks in the shade.
- If you have a risk factor for heat exhaustion or heat stroke, be very careful of doing activity in hot weather. Take regular rests and drink lots of fluids.
- During heat waves, try to spend time indoors with air-conditioning or go to an air-conditioned shelter. This is especially important for elderly adults.
American Academy of Family Physicians http://www.aafp.org
American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org
Evans M. Family Practice Sourcebook. Toronto, Canada: Mosby; 2005.
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Ferri F, ed. Ferri’s Clinical Advisor 2011. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2011.
Onion D. The Little Black Book of Primary Care. Sudbury, MA: Blackwell Science; 2006.
Rakel R. Textbook of Family Medicine 2007. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2009.
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- Reviewer: Peter Lucas, MD
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 00/93/2012 -