Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke

by | Jul 5, 2024 | Health and Wellness

The hot summer heat is here, and with it comes the risk for heat-related illnesses. Heat-related illnesses can range from mild conditions like heat cramps and rashes to moderate illnesses like heat exhaustion, and more severe outcomes like heatstroke. As the body gets hotter, conditions can quickly get worse.

Being proactive to mitigate the risk of all heat-related illnesses is important. Also critical is to watch for the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion because it can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition.

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to overheating. It can be caused by being exposed to high temperatures, particularly when there is also high humidity, or as a result of intense physical activity. Although it can present differently for different people, there are common signs and symptoms to watch for.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • High body temperature
  • Confusion and lack of coordination
  • Skin rash
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Heavy sweating
  • Headache
  • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • Extreme thirst
  • Dark urine and decreased urination

If you or someone around you experiences any of these symptoms during extreme heat, immediately stop all activity, move to a cool place and hydrate – water is best. If symptoms get worse or don’t improve, seek medical assistance.

Heatstroke

Heatstroke is the most serious form of heat-related illness. It occurs when the body can no longer control its own temperature. Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. If left untreated heatstroke can damage vital organs, with damage worsening the longer treatment is delayed, or can cause death.

Signs and symptoms of heatstroke:

  • High body temperature
  • Confusion and lack of coordination
  • Dizziness/fainting
  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • No sweating
  • Very hot, red skin
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate

If you recognize these signs and symptoms in yourself or someone else, call 911 immediately and try to cool yourself or them down while help is on the way. Move the affected person to a cool place or shade, remove excess clothing, apply cold water to large areas of their skin and fan the person as much as possible. Do not leave the person alone until medical assistance has arrived.

Learn more about heat-related illnesses at canada.ca/health

Related Content

Top tips to keep cool in the heat

Top tips to keep cool in the heat

Heat waves, with their hot temperatures and often high humidity, can harm your health and can even be deadly. To help you stay healthy, here are some tips from Health Canada. Take a break Plan your outdoor activities for the morning or evening when the temperature is...

read more
4 ways to stay active and safe this summer

4 ways to stay active and safe this summer

Regardless of your preference – be it soccer, pickleball, bootcamp class or tai-chi – outdoor activity is an important part of how many of us maintain a healthy mind and body. But being active outdoors during hot weather can have health risks. Here are four tips to...

read more
6 tips to improve your sleep

6 tips to improve your sleep

Sleep is more than just rest – it’s your body’s ultimate repair session, boosting immunity and revitalizing you from head to toe. And for people living with arthritis and chronic pain, there is a vicious cycle in which pain causes stress, prevents good sleep and leads...

read more
3 ways people living with HIV can access support

3 ways people living with HIV can access support

When faced with a life-changing diagnosis, such as HIV, you may experience unique challenges, from physical health concerns to psychological and social ones. Yet, among these challenges, you may find support systems that provide guidance and empowerment. If you or...

read more
5 tips to beat arthritis fatigue this summer

5 tips to beat arthritis fatigue this summer

We only get a few months of warm weather in Canada. So, as temperatures rise, you may want to get outside and enjoy every moment. But when you have a chronic condition such as arthritis, extreme fatigue – the feeling of needing to rest even before you start an...

read more