Signs of Heat Stroke

Summer is approaching fast and temperatures are beginning to rise, so it’s time to start thinking about how to recognize, prevent and treat heat-related illnesses. Heat stroke is no joke, and in some cases it can even be fatal or cause long-term health problems.

So let’s talk about the symptoms of heat stroke, some tips on how to prevent heat stroke – especially when exercising in the heat – how to treat heat stroke and when to call the doctor or seek medical help.

How to Know If You Have Heat Stroke

The early signs of heat stroke include feeling tired, hot, sweaty, thirsty and experiencing muscle cramps. Many people – especially those exercising in hot weather or in a crowded, steamy gym – brush off these feelings as side effects of intense exercise.

That’s understandable, and they aren’t necessarily wrong. But pushing too hard through these symptoms without taking action to mediate them can easily push you beyond workout fatigue into overheating.

If you’re feeling one or more of the following signs of heat illness, then there’s a good chance that you’re already suffering from heat stroke – especially if you’re experiencing some of the more severe symptoms.

– Throbbing headache
– Flushed/red skin
– Skin is dry and hot to the touch
– Sweaty, slightly moist skin (during exercise)
– Increased body temperature
– Increased heart rate
– Rapid, shallow breathing
– Confused, irritated, slurred speech, delirious
– Seizure
– Coma

How to Prevent Heat Stroke

They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that is especially true when it comes to preventing overheating and heat illness. When you know that hot weather is coming, or when you have outdoor activities or exercise sessions planned, there are several precautions you can take to avoid getting heat stroke and heat cramps.

– Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after outdoor activity
– Wear light colors and avoid heavy layers of clothing
– Wear moisture-wicking fabrics
– Use high-SPF sunscreen, sunglasses and hat when outdoors
– Try to avoid direct sunlight and stay in shady areas when possible
– Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these cause you to lose fluids
– Exercise at lower intensity or do shorter workouts
– Exercise indoors on the treadmill or in an air-conditioned gym
– Wear a long-sleeve shirt to protect your skin when spending long hours outside

What to Do If You Have Heat Stroke

Sometimes, even when you take precautions to increase fluid intake and limit exercise duration and intensity, you can still end up pushing your body a little too hard into heat exhaustion.

If you think you might have heat stroke, get out of the heat immediately. Get off your feet and replenish your body’s fluid levels. Drink eight ounces of water or a low-sugar sports/electrolyte drink every 15-20 minutes, but do not exceed 48 ounces in one hour.

If an hour has passed since you got out of the heat, rested and rehydrated, yet heat stroke symptoms still remain, then head to the local emergency room or call 911 immediately. Heat illness can be very dangerous, so don’t hesitate to seek medical attention if your symptoms are lingering or worsening beyond that first hour.

You can still take part in outdoor activities during the hot summer months, as long as you know what to do to keep yourself safe from heat stroke. Being prepared and following some common-sense rules is the key to safely working and playing outdoors in the sun. So follow these hot weather tips to prevent heat stroke and have a productive and fun summer.