Weather Ready Nation – Signs & Symptoms of Heat Related Illnesses

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Dr. Tony Gonzales of Covenant Health explains, “Heat exhaustion is basically the body’s inability to keep up with the excess amount of heat that is produced. And when it can’t do that you end up with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness and fatigue.”


According to the CDC, someone with heat stroke can experience similar symptoms such as nausea and headache. But there are several key factors to look out for.


“The difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke is very little. Many of the signs and symptoms overlap. However, in heat exhaustion you have profuse sweating along with the other symptoms we’ve spoken about. And you also have a normal mental status. People are not confused, not disoriented, not having difficulty with their thought processes. So their central nervous system is still intact. In heat stroke, you no longer have a central nervous system that is functioning appropriately […] In heat stroke, you have all of those symptoms, however, the patients have altered mental status, and they also have a temperature that is greater than 105F,” says Dr. Gonzales.


When dealing with someone who may be suffering from either heat exhaustion or heat stroke, knowing how to respond is highly important.


Dr. Gonzales further advises, “Well the first step is to get them out of the environment that is causing the heat illness. That’s the first step. Take them to a shaded area, give them water, give them a sports drink, something to start cooling them down. Spray them down with tepid water and fan them down. And if you’re concerned enough that this is a serious problem, you should call 911 or take them to the emergency department.”

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