Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke, Stroke: What's the Difference?
Summertime means hot temperatures, outdoor activities, and lots of sweating. While it's important to stay hydrated during the summer, it's also important to be able to recognize the symptoms or signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as well as other kinds of heat-related illnesses and the symptoms and treatment for such conditions. Stay cool!
What happens when our body's core temperature rises?
The body's optimum temperature range is quite narrow. The internal temperature varies from 36°C to 38°C. An individual performing working in a hot environment builds up body heat, especially if doing heavy work at the same time. For example, a person who works in construction in the summer can expect to generate about four times as much heat as someone sitting at a desk.
How does the body gets rid of excess heat?
The body uses different mechanisms to get rid of this excess heat.
The first mechanism - vasodilation and increased heart rate
The first mechanism is vasodilation, which is the widening of blood vessels. This increases our blood flow to the skin, which helps to cool the body. This also means that the heart rate increases to move the circulating blood—and heat—from the vital organs, including the heart, lungs, and other organs to the skin.
The second mechanism - sweating
The second mechanism is sweating, which helps to evaporate the water on the skin and also cools the body.
These mechanisms are very effective at keeping the body's core temperature within a safe range. However, if an individual is exposed to high temperatures for a long period of time or is performing a strenuous activity in a hot environment, they may not be able to keep their core temperature within a safe range. The core temperature can rise above 38°C, where a series of heat-related illnesses or heat stress disorders can then develop.
What is Heat Exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion is a heat-related condition that can occur when you are exposed to high temperatures, especially if you are not used to the weather. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness, headache, nausea, and vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to remove yourself from the heat source and drink lots of fluids.
Who is at the greatest risk for heat exhaustion?
Those who are most at risk for heat exhaustion are older adults, young children, and those who are not used to high temperatures. Those who drink a lot of alcohol or take certain medications (such as diuretics, beta-blockers, or anticholinergics) may also be more likely to experience heat exhaustion. These medications can interfere with the body's ability to sweat, which can lead to dehydration.
How do you know if you are experiencing heat exhaustion?
If you are exposed to high temperatures and have any of the following symptoms, you may have heat exhaustion:
- Heavy sweating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Pale skin
If you think you are experiencing heat exhaustion, it is important to remove yourself from the heat and drink lots of fluids. You should also seek medical attention if your symptoms persist or worsen.
What is Heat Stroke?
Heat stroke is a more serious heat-related condition that can occur when your body temperature gets too high. Symptoms and signs of a heat stroke include hyperthermia or high body temperature (103 degrees or above), confusion, seizures, and unconsciousness. If you experience these symptoms, it is important to call 911 immediately and cool down the person with whatever means necessary until medical help arrives.
Who is at the greatest risk for heat exhaustion?
The elderly, children and those who are not used to high temperatures are the most vulnerable to heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is more prevalent among persons who consume alcohol or use various medications (such as diuretics, beta blockers, or anticholinergics).
How do you know if you have heat stroke?
If you are exposed to high temperatures and have any of the following symptoms, you may have heat stroke:
- High body temperature (103 degrees or above)
If you think you or someone else may have a heat stroke, it is important to call 911 immediately. You should also cool down the person with whatever means necessary until medical help arrives.
Other kinds of heat-related illnesses
Sure, we all know about the dangers of too much sun exposure. But what about other kinds of heat-related illnesses? Did you know that being too hot can make you sick in a lot of different ways?
Heat cramps are muscle spasms or pains that can occur during or after exposure to high temperatures. They are usually a result of dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Who is at the greatest risk for heat cramps?
Those who are most at risk for heat cramps are those who sweat a lot, such as athletes or manual laborers. Other risk factors include dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and certain medications (such as diuretics).
What are the symptoms and signs of heat cramps?
Symptoms of heat cramps include:
- Muscle pains
If you are one of the unlucky ones who suffer from heat cramps, don't worry, you're not alone. And there are many ways to make them more manageable. Stay hydrated, take breaks in the shade or air conditioning, and if they get really bad, seek medical help. With a little bit of knowledge and some preparation, you can enjoy all that summer has to offer without letting pesky heat cramps ruin your fun.
Heat rash is a skin irritation that can occur during or after exposure to high temperatures. It is usually a result of sweating and is more common in humid environments.
Who is at the greatest risk for heat rash?
Heat rash is most common in infants and young children. Those who sweat a lot or who are in humid environments are also at increased risk.
What are the symptoms and signs of heat rash?
Symptoms of heat rash include:
- Itchy or prickly feeling on the skin
- Red bumps on the skin
- Swelling of the affected area
While there are a variety of potential causes of heat rash, the best way to prevent and treat it is by understanding how to avoid and combat the conditions that lead to it. By being proactive in your approach to summer weather, you can keep yourself cool and comfortable – without having to worry about a pesky heat rash!
Dehydration is a condition that occurs when your body does not have enough fluids. It can be caused by a variety of things, including exposure to high temperatures, strenuous activity, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Who is at the greatest risk for dehydration?
Those who are most at risk for dehydration are those who sweat a lot, such as athletes or manual laborers. Other risk factors include exposure to high temperatures, strenuous activity, vomiting, and diarrhea.
What are the signs and symptoms of dehydration?
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
If you think you or someone else may be dehydrated, it is important to seek medical help immediately. Dehydration can be a serious condition, and it is important to treat it as such.
With a little bit of knowledge and some preparation, you can avoid dehydration and enjoy all that summer has to offer. By keeping yourself hydrated and taking breaks in the shade or air conditioning, you can keep yourself cool and comfortable – without having to worry about dehydration!
How can you prevent yourself from getting either of these conditions in the summer heat?
So it's the middle of summer, and it's hot. REALLY HOT. And you're outside working, and it's so hot that you can't even think straight. You start to feel lightheaded and a little dizzy. You might be thinking, "I'm having a heat stroke." But before you panic, there are some simple things you can do to prevent yourself from getting either a heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or other heat related conditions. Just follow these tips and stay cool!
1. Drink lots of fluids
This one might seem obvious, but it is important to drink lots of fluids, especially water when it's hot outside. Drinking fluids helps to prevent dehydration, which can lead to heat exhaustion or other heat-related illnesses.
Not a fan of drinking lots of water? No problem! There are plenty of other fluids you can drink to stay hydrated, including:
- Sports drinks
- Flavoured water with fruits or herbs
You can read more about fruit-infused and flavored water in our article about Dehydration and the Benefits of Drinking Fruit-Infused and Flavoured Water.
2. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing
Wearing loose-fitting, light-colored clothing helps to keep your body cooler by allowing air to circulate around your skin. Darker colors absorb more heat, so it's best to avoid them if possible.
3. Take breaks often
If you are outside in the heat for a long period of time, be sure to take breaks often and get out of the sun whenever possible. Taking breaks will help your body to cool down and prevent overheating.
4. Cool down with a cold shower or bath
Taking a cold shower or bath is a great way to cool down when you're feeling hot. The water will help to lower your body temperature and make you feel more comfortable.
5. Use fans or air conditioning
Fans and other air conditioning appliances can help to keep the air circulating and prevent the build-up of heat in your environment. And if possible, try to stay in a cool, air-conditioned space during the hottest hours of the day.
6. Avoid hot, heavy meals.
Hot, heavy meals can add to the heat in your body and make you feel even hotter. Instead, go for lighter meals that are easy to digest.
7. Check on elderly or vulnerable loved ones.
Some people are more prone to heat-related illnesses than others, so it's important to check on elderly or vulnerable loved ones during periods of extreme heat. Make sure they are staying cool and hydrated, and help them to get out of the heat if necessary.
8. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke
If you know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, you'll be able to watch out for these conditions early before they become serious.
9. Seek medical help if necessary
If you or someone you know is experiencing the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, seek medical help immediately. These conditions can be quite serious and require medical attention.
10. Stay safe and cool this summer!
By following these simple tips, you can prevent heat-related illnesses and stay safe and cool all summer long. So enjoy the warm weather and don't let the heat get the best of you!
By following these simple tips, you can help to prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other heat-related illnesses. So stay cool this summer!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Summertime is a good time to get out and enjoy the warm weather. However, it's important to be aware of the dangers associated with high temperatures. Here are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about heat related conditions.
How common are heat-related illnesses?
Heat-related illnesses are more common than you might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 600 people die from heat-related illnesses in the United States every year. And, during periods of extreme heat, the number of hospitalizations and Emergency Department (ED) visits due to these conditions increases significantly.
Are there any long-term effects of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and what should be done if they occur?
There are no long-term effects of heat exhaustion, but heat stroke can lead to permanent organ damage or even death if it is not treated immediately. If you suspect that someone has a heat stroke, call 911 and provide first aid until medical help arrives.
Can some medications increase the risk of heat-related illness?
Some medications can increase the risk of heat-related illness, so it's important to check with your doctor or pharmacist if you take any medication regularly. Some common medications that can increase the risk include diuretics, beta blockers, and certain antidepressants.
What are the responsibilities of employers and workplace parties regarding heat related illnesses?
Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees are not exposed to hazardous conditions, including extreme heat. If the temperature in the workplace is too high, employers should take steps to reduce the heat exposure and provide employees with break times in a cooler environment.
How effective are electric fans and air coolers in preventing heat-related illness?
Fans and air coolers can help to circulate the air and prevent the build-up of heat in your environment. However, they will not lower your body temperature. If possible, try to stay in a cool, air-conditioned space during the hottest hours of the day.
Can I take salt tablets during hot weather?
Salt tablets are not recommended for preventing or treating heat-related illnesses. In fact, they can actually be harmful if taken without medical supervision. If you are on a low-sodium diet, speak to your doctor before taking any salt supplement.
What should I do if my work involves staying in a hot environment?
If you work in a hot environment, it's important to take frequent breaks in a cool, air-conditioned space. Drink a lot of fluids and wear light, loose-fitting clothing. And, if possible, avoid working during the hottest hours of the day.
Are there measures for evaluating heat-related illness risk at work?
Workers should not be exposed to conditions that would exceed 38°C inside their bodies, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in order to avoid heat stress. Rectal thermometry is the only correct method of measuring internal body temperature (oral or inner ear readings are not as accurate). But who wants to get a rectal body temperature before starting work? In an effort to assess heat stress risk, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has developed a procedure based on a wet bulb globe temperature threshold.
The heat burden is measured using this approach, which includes three key elements of the heat burden faced by employees:
Thermal environment - heat transfer from the environment to the worker, which includes air temperature, humidity, and other factors in the environment that could potentially increase heat load. Air temperature and humidity are the most important environmental parameters affecting heat exchange between the worker and the environment.
Type of clothing - clothing's ability to protect the worker from the environment. The type of clothing worn by the worker, as well as the fit of the clothing. Clothing worn by workers affects heat transfer from the environment to the body. It greatly affects heat loss from or heat retention of the body. A fully clothed worker will have a higher heat burden than a worker who is only wearing a light shirt and shorts. The more clothing or, the thicker the clothing, the greater the insulating effect and the higher the potential for heat-related illness.
Type of work - metabolic heat production by the worker depends on what kind of work is being performed. Does the worker perform repetitive heavy lifting under the sun or work in a well-ventilated office? The work activity combined with the environmental conditions will determine the amount of heat produced by the worker.
The Wet Bulb Globe Temperature Index is a measure of the heat burden on a work that takes into account all three of the key elements.
What should I do if I'm exercising in the heat?
Exercising in the heat can be dangerous, so it's important to take precautions. Drink a lot of fluids and wear light, loose-fitting clothing. And, if possible, exercise in a cool, air-conditioned space or outdoors early in the morning or evening when it's cooler.
Can I still swim if it's hot outside?
Yes, but take precautions. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid swimming during the hottest hours of the day. And, if possible, swim in a cool, air-conditioned space or in a pool with a shade cover.
What should I do if I am pregnant and it's hot outside?
If you're pregnant, it's important to take precautions when it's hot outside. Drink plenty of fluids and wear light, loose-fitting clothing. And, if possible, stay in a cool, air-conditioned space. If you must go outside, avoid the hottest hours of the day.
Pregnant women are more susceptible to heat stress because their bodies are not as efficient at regulating temperature. The added weight of the growing baby puts extra strain on the cardiovascular system, making it harder for the body to cool itself down. Additionally, pregnancy hormones can cause increased blood flow to the skin surface, which also makes it difficult for the body to regulate its temperature.
Can I get a heat-related illness from sitting in a sauna or steam room?
Yes, it is possible to get a heat-related illness from sitting in a sauna or steam room. So it is important to stay hydrated and take breaks often. And, if possible, try to find a cooler spot to sit in or leave the sauna or steam room if you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded.
Where can people go for more information on preventing and treating heat-related illnesses, as well as getting help during an emergency situation involving high temperatures?
For more information on preventing and treating heat-related illnesses, as well as getting help during an emergency situation involving high temperatures, you can visit the CDC's website or contact your local Emergency Management office.
You can check out the following articles:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Extreme Heat
- Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA) - Heat Stress FAQs
- MedlinePlus- Heat Illness
- HealthLink BC - Heat-related Illness
Stay safe out there! We hope you've enjoyed our post on heat related illnesses. As the weather gets warmer, it is vital to be aware of the risks and take precautions to avoid becoming a statistic. Remember to drink plenty of fluids, stay in the shade when possible, wear sunscreen and hats, and most importantly – listen to your body. If you start feeling sick, get out of the sun and seek medical attention. And as always, stay cool!
Information in this post is not intended as medical advice. For specific questions or concerns, please consult a healthcare professional.
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