Heatstroke; Heat illness
Heat emergencies or illnesses are caused by exposure to extreme heat and sun. Heat illnesses can be prevented by being careful in hot, humid weather.
Heat injuries can occur due to high temperatures and humidity. You are more likely to feel the effects of heat sooner if:
The following make it harder for the body to regulate its temperature, and make a heat emergency more likely:
Heat cramps are the first stage of heat illness. If these symptoms are not treated, it can lead to heat exhaustion and then heat stroke.
Heat stroke occurs when the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature, and it keeps rising. Heat stroke can cause shock, brain damage, organ failure, and even death.
The early symptoms of heat cramps include:
Later symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
The symptoms of heatstroke include (call 911 or the local emergency number right away):
If you think a person may have heat illness or emergency:
Follow these precautions:
Call 911 if:
The first step in preventing heat illnesses is thinking ahead.
To help prevent heat illnesses:
Platt M, Vicario S. Heat illness. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 141.
Sawka MN, O'Connor FG. Disorders due to heat and cold. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 109.
Last reviewed on: 11/4/2015
Reviewed by: Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.