Heatstroke symptoms include:
- High body temperature. A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke.
- Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
- Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel moist.
- Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
- Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
- Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
- Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
- Headache. Your head may throb.
When to see a doctor
If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number.
Take immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment.
July 12, 2014
- Get the person into shade or indoors.
- Remove excess clothing.
- Cool the person with whatever means available — put in a cool tub of water or a cool shower, spray with a garden hose, sponge with cool water, fan while misting with cool water, or place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person's head, neck, armpits and groin.
- 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 May 22, 2014.
- Heatstroke. The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries_poisoning/heat_illness/heatstroke.html?qt=heatstroke&alt=sh. Accessed May 22, 2014.
- Hyperthermia: Too hot for your health. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/newsroom/2012/06/hyperthermia-too-hot-your-health. Accessed May 22, 2014.
- O'Connor FG, et al. Exertional heat illness in adolescents and adults: Epidemiology, thermoregulation, risk factors and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 22, 2014.
- O'Connor FG, et al. Exertional heat illness in adolescents and adults: Management and prevention. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 22, 2014.
- Mecham CC. Severe nonexertional hyperthermia (classic heat stroke) in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 22, 2014.
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