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How To Recognise And Treat Heat Exhaustion And Heat stroke

Updated on June 29, 2014
Image courtesy of Download "Family In The Beach" by photostock
Image courtesy of Download "Family In The Beach" by photostock

Here Comes Summer

With summer well on the way and temperatures soaring it´s important that we take precautions to guard against the possible side effects caused by the heat and too much exposure to the sun. Of course we are hopefully all now aware of the damaging effects of solar rays, and take precautions before venturing out in the sunshine by slathering on the sunscreen, but it´s important we try to protect ourselves from the effects of heat too.

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke are very serious conditions which can arise from the effects of overheating. It´s Important that anyone suffering from either condition receives immediate first aid and medical attention.

The very young ( children under 2 years old) and the elderly are most at risk, but anyone can succumb to the effects of overheating and problems caused by dehydration.
Apart from the young and old, anyone suffering from Kidney, heart, circulation problems, obesity, and those using insulin to control Diabetes, may be at a higher risk for suffering from heat realated conditions.

Heat Exhaustion Signs Symptoms And Treatment

Heat exhaustion can affect anyone performing strenuous work or physical exercise in hot, moist environments, especially if they are not replacing the fluid and salt lost by sweating. Or when sweating cannot meet the cooling demands of the body.

Sweating is the bodys response to reducing the core temperature ( the temperature inside your body) As sweat evaporates this cools the skin.

Breathing rate may also increase as we start to overheat to allow more heat loss from the lungs.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Very hot skin.

Heavy sweating.

Pale face.Facial skin will feel cold and clammy to the touch.


Mental confusion.


Muscular cramps particularly in the stomach region and legs.

Extreme tiredness and weakness . There may also be agitation.

Racing but weak pulse.

Nausea or vomiting.


The casualty may faint on sudden movement.

loss of consciousness.

First Aid Treatment

Take the affected person immediately into a cooler environment and call for medical assistance.

If the casualty is conscious give them cold water to drink. If they are sweating profusely and suffering from cramps, or are vomiting and may have diarrhoea, add half a teaspoon of salt and six teaspoons of sugar to the first litre of water, or offer a sports rehydration drink such as gatoraid, or an oral rehydration sachet mixed with the correct amount of water. This will help replace lost salts and minerals and rebalance electrolyte levels.

loosen or remove outer layers of clothing.

Cool the sufferer with cold water. Do not place in a cold bath though as this may cause a sudden change in blood pressure. It´s better to soak a flannel or towel in cold water and place this on the affected person . Anywhere is effective but especially pulse points. E.g. wrists, inside the elbow joints, round the neck and on the forehead
If the room you have moved the casualty to is not air conditioned, place a fan next to them, or fan with a folded newspaper or what ever you can use to create some air flow to help with the cooling process.

The casualty should start to feel better within half an hour but if this doesn´t happen call for an ambulance immediately.

Heat Stroke Signs Symptoms And Treatment

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and must be dealt with as such. Heat stroke can develop if you have failed to recognise the symptoms of heat exhaustion, or you have been in a hot and humid environment for too long, or if you are suffering from a feverish illness such as malaria or anything that would greatly increase your temperature.Heat stroke can occur suddenly, can affect anyone of any age , and is caused by the body´s inability to control your temperature by sweating.

Symptoms Of Heat Stroke

Headache , dizziness, and feeling hot.


Pulse will be full and bounding.

Breathing may become noisy and laboured.

Temperature will be high and the casualty will looked red and flushed with the skin remaining dry to the touch.

Unconsciousness may develop rapidly and become very deep.

First Aid Treatment

Move the affected person to a cooler and shaded environment and get someone to call for an ambulance at once.

Remove the outer clothing.

If conscious place him or her in a half sitting position and support the head and shoulders. Offer cold water for them to drink.

Cover with a cold wet sheet and keep it wet. If you have a fan direct the air current towards them. If you don´t have a fan use a newspaper or what ever you can find and fan him or her until she or he cools down.

If the caualtys temperature starts to rise again, repeat the methods above.

If the sufferer has lapsed into unconsciousness open his or her airway, check for breathing, resuscitate if necessary and then place in the recovery position and monitor his or her condition until the ambulance arrives.

If the sufferers temperature falls, cover with a dry sheet and move to an air conditioned room if possible. If not possible keep the electric fan going or keep fanning with a newspaper.

Await the arrival of an ambulance and monitor the affected persons condition at all times.

Acknowledgements And Disclaimer

Credits must go to the following.

Youtube videos. St John Ambulance first aid manual. NHS direct on-line.

Please note. The author is not a doctor or medic or in anyway associated with the medical profession and this hub is soley for your advice. Always call for trained medical help in emergency situations.

Animals can also die from heat stroke so please never leave your dog in the car on a hot day. Make sure they have shelter and water if leaving them outside. Leave them at home if you are planning a day out in the heat. Animals suffer from the heat at lower temperatures than Humans. To cool your dog down on a hot day , water applied to the chest is much more effective than pouring it over his back.

Comments And Feedback

Your comments are always very much appreciated. Please do feel free to leave some. Thank you.


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    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 5 years ago from Spain

      Hi Mythbuster. Sorry for confusing you..I do seem to have used the word " casualty " rather often, but it is the term used in the UK and takes less effort than " Afflicted person" lol. Good that you are aware of how heat affects you, and know what to do to keep well and not become a " casualty" ( sorry...couldn´t resist that, the he he ) :) Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, much appreciated.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 5 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Helpful hub, easy to understand and read. One thing that confused me, however, was in reading "casualty" over and over again lol. I had to back up and substitute "afflicted person" for this word several times but that's just me. I've experienced heat exhaustion, dehydration several times but was always able to get things straightened out and not suffer the effects for long. Often, because I know I'm susceptible to this condition, I just CANCEL ALL EVENTS and stay home when it is overly hot outside in my region. Better safe than sorry, eh? Great hub, voted up.

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 5 years ago from Spain

      Hi 2patricias. Thanks for reading and making a comment. Also for following me now, all much appreciated. I have lived in Spain for 10 years, so you kind of forget how bad the British summer can be, even though I get regular reports from my family there. However, you are right, when the sun does show it´s face people can and do , go a bit mad. And we do occasionally get the kind of heat that can strike you down before you know it.

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 5 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      When I saw the title I wondered if this could be useful info for people living in England. (So far, we are having a cold summer.) However, remembering back, people here do silly things when the sun comes out - so this is useful.

    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 5 years ago from Spain

      Hi rex. Thanks for reading and your comment too, much appreciated.I´m going to have a read of some of your stuff now. Take care in the heat and have a great summer.

    • rex michaels profile image

      rex michaels 5 years ago

      Info everyone needs. Excellent hub!