Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are both heat-related illnesses which occur when there is a problem with the body’s cooling system. Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke if a timely treatment is not provided. Heat stroke is more serious when compared to heat exhaustion. It can damage the muscles, kidneys, heart, or brain and can be life-threatening without a proper management.
Both heat stroke and heat exhaustion begin with muscle cramps. However, the other symptoms may be different for both the conditions.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
Contact the doctor immediately if nausea or vomiting is experienced.
Symptoms of heat stroke include:
Call for immediate medical help if heat stroke is suspected.
Usually, when the body is exposed to high temperatures or heat waves such as during summers, it produces sweat which evaporates and cools down the body. This is possible when there are adequate fluids in the body to produce sweat and air circulates well across the skin to evaporate the sweat. But when the cooling system of the body cannot compensate the excess heat by generating sweat, it can lead to heat exhaustion.
The other causes of heat exhaustion include:
Heat exhaustion experienced for a prolonged period can result in heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs when the cooling system of body does not work anymore and causes a dangerously high body temperature. It is more likely to have a heat stroke during hot climatic conditions.
Anyone can develop heat exhaustion and heat stroke. However, the following factors make it is more likely to develop these heat-related illnesses:
The doctor can get a clue of heat exhaustion or heat stroke from the symptoms of the patient. However, to confirm the condition and look for complications certain laboratory tests as mentioned below may be necessary:
Treatment should be started soon as the signs of heat exhaustion are noticed.
The doctor might place the patient in cold water tub or pack in special ice wraps to quickly bring down the temperature. If this treatment results in shivering, then medications may be given to stop shivering.
When the symptoms of heat exhaustion are experienced, follow the below steps which help in recovery usually within 30 minutes:
The following measures can reduce the risk of developing heat exhaustion and heat stroke:
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