Dr. Inderjeet Kaur

Consultant - Internal Medicine

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Dr. Inderjeet Kaur

Consultant - Internal Medicine

Manipal Hospitals, Patiala

Heat Exhaustion vs. Heatstroke: Know the Difference

Posted On: Jun 07, 2024

blogs read 4 Min Read

Heat Stroke vs. Heat Exhaustion

Summer's here, and while we welcome the sunshine and warm weather, it's important to be aware of the dangers of overheating. Heat exhaustion vs heatstroke is a conceptual battle that's been common in all our heads. The two heat-related illnesses that can strike anyone, and knowing the difference between them is crucial for taking the right action. In this blog, we have discussed both and suggested preventive measures shared by our expert doctors in Patiala that can be a lifesaver.


Understanding Heat Illness

Our bodies naturally cool themselves through sweating. When it's hot, we sweat more to release heat and maintain a safe internal temperature. However, under extreme heat or strenuous activity, our bodies can struggle to keep up. This can lead to heat exhaustion and, if left untreated, progress to the more serious heatstroke.

Heat Exhaustion: Your Body's Warning Sign

Heat exhaustion is your body's way of saying it's overheating and needs help cooling down. Some of the symptoms that can come gradually include:

  1. Heavy sweating

  2. Cool, clammy skin

  3. Muscle cramps

  4. Headache

  5. Dizziness

  6. Fatigue

  7. Nausea or vomiting

  8. Weakness

Act Fast to Cool Down

If you experience heat exhaustion symptoms, take immediate action to cool down your body:

  1. Move to a cool, air-conditioned space.

  2. Remove tight clothing.

  3. Drink plenty of fluids, preferably cool water or electrolyte drinks.

  4. Use ice packs onyour skin or take a cold shower.

  5. Rest until you feel better.

Heatstroke: A Medical Emergency

Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition that occurs when your body completely overheats and can no longer regulate its temperature. It requires immediate medical attention. Heat stroke symptoms include:

  1. Body temperature above 104°F (40°C)

  2. Hot, dry skin (little or no sweating)

  3. Confusion, delirium, or loss of consciousness

  4. Seizures

  5. Rapid, shallow breathing

  6. Headache

  7. Don't Wait - Call for Help

Make an instant phone call to emergency services if you think someone is suffering from heatstroke. While waiting for help, move the person to a cool, shaded area. Loosen clothing and try to cool their body down with cool compresses or fanning. Do not give them fluids, as they may choke.

Consult our internal medicine hospital in Patiala if you are experiencing heat illness. 

Staying Safe in the Heat

Here are some tips to avoid heat exhaustion and heatstroke:

  1. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day, even if you don't feel thirsty.

  2. Steer clear of intense exercise while it's the warmest outside.

  3. Wear loose, lightweight, and light-coloured clothing.

  4. Under shaded spaces or AC, take intervals.

  5. In a heated automobile, refrain from leaving kids or pets alone.

By knowing the difference between heat exhaustion and heatstroke, you can take the necessary steps to stay safe and enjoy the summer weather responsibly. Remember, early intervention is key!

Consult our internal medicine specialist in Patiala if you want to know more about how to reduce the effects of heat stroke. 

Foods to Include in Diet to Combat Heat

  1. Fruits and vegetables with high water content: These foods help keep you hydrated and cool you down from the inside out. Examples include watermelon, cucumber, celery, leafy greens, and citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons.

  2. Coconut water: This natural electrolyte drink is a great way to replenish fluids and minerals lost through sweating.

  3. Buttermilk: A traditional Indian drink, buttermilk is a good source of probiotics and electrolytes, which can help regulate body temperature and aid digestion.

  4. Mint: This herb has a cooling effect and can be added to water, yoghurt, or smoothies for a refreshing treat.

  5. Aloe vera juice: Aloe vera juice is known for its soothing properties and can help cool down the body.


  1. Limit your intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol, as these can dehydrate you and make you feel hotter.

  2. Throughout the day, consume lighter meals more often.

  3. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

  4. Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty.

Book an appointment with our experienced doctors in Patiala for consultation or visit us if you observe any symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion. We also invite you to bookmark our blog page to read more about heat stroke and the latest healthcare blogs shared by our doctors.

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