Signs of heat trouble

June 6, 2008 1:50:50 PM PDT
Getting sick from the heat doesn't happen in a second. But you may not notice it till you are in serious trouble.

In hot weather, the body's normal cooling system can fail, allowing internal heat to build up, sometimes to dangerous levels. As a result, a person may develop heat illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.

Heat Cramps

They are brief, severe cramps in the muscles of the arms, legs, or abdomen. They can occur during or after vigorous exercise in the extreme heat. Children are particularly susceptible to heat cramps when they haven't been drinking enough fluids. Most heat cramps don't require special treatment. A cool place, rest, and more fluids should ease those cramps.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a more severe heat illness that can occur when a person in a hot climate or environment hasn't been drinking enough fluids. Symptoms may include:




clammy skin


nausea and/or vomiting

hyperventilation (rapid breathing)


What to Do:

Bring the person indoors or into the shade.

Loosen or remove the person's clothing.

Encourage to eat and drink.

Give a bath in cool (not cold) water.

Call the doctor for further advice.

If left untreated, heat exhaustion may escalate into heatstroke, which can be fatal.


The most severe form of heat illness, heatstroke is a life-threatening medical emergency. The body loses its ability to regulate its own temperature. Body temperature can soar to 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41.1 degrees Celsius) or even higher, leading to brain damage or even death if it isn't quickly treated. Prompt medical treatment is required to bring the body temperature under control.

Factors that increase the risk for heatstroke include overdressing and extreme physical exertion in hot weather with inadequate fluid intake.


flushed, hot, dry skin with no sweating

temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.6 degrees Celsius) or higher

severe, throbbing headache

weakness, dizziness, or confusion

sluggishness or fatigue


decreased responsiveness

loss of consciousness

What to Do:

Call for emergency medical help. Get the person indoors, or into shade