Home treatment isn't sufficient treatment for heatstroke. If you have signs or symptoms of heatstroke, seek emergency medical help. Others should take steps to cool you off while waiting for emergency help to arrive.
If you notice signs of heat-related illness before any noticeable signs or symptoms of heatstroke appear, take action to lower your body temperature and prevent your condition from progressing to heatstroke. In a lesser heat emergency, such as heat cramps or heat exhaustion, the following steps may be sufficient to lower your body temperature:
Sep. 02, 2011
- Get to a shady or air-conditioned place. Remaining in the heat will worsen your condition. If you don't have air conditioning at home, go someplace that is air-conditioned, such as the mall, movie theatre or public library.
- Cool off with damp sheets and a fan. If you're with someone who's experiencing heat-related symptoms, cool the person by covering him or her with damp sheets or by spraying with cool water. Direct air onto the person with a fan.
- Take a cool shower or bath. If you're outdoors and nowhere near shelter, soaking in a cool pond or stream also can help bring your temperature down.
- Rehydrate. Keep in mind that the symptoms of heat-related illnesses are caused not only when you become dehydrated but also when you lose salt through sweating. Some sports drinks will replenish both water and salt. The amount you'll need to drink to rehydrate varies from person to person, so sip slowly and call your doctor if you're concerned. And, if you're on a low-sodium diet, be sure to check with your doctor before having drinks with a high salt content.
- Don't drink beverages with alcohol to rehydrate. These drinks may interfere with your body's ability to control your temperature.
- Extreme heat: A prevention guide to promote your personal health and safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.asp. Accessed Aug 4, 2011.
- Heatstroke. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec22/ch338/ch338d.html?qt=heat%20stroke&alt=sh. Accessed Aug. 4, 2011.
- Zimmerman JL, et al. Hyperthermia. In: Hall JB, et al. Principles of Critical Care. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Professional; 2005. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2282701. Accessed July 7, 2009.
- Becker JA, et al. Heat-related illness. American Family Physician. 2011;83:1325.
- Hyperthermia: Too hot for your health. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/hyperthermia.htm. Accessed May 27, 2011.
- Ishimine P. Heat stroke in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 27, 2011.