What Are the Symptoms?
Heat cramp symptoms include:
Severe, sometimes disabling, cramps that typically begin suddenly in the hands, calves or feet.
Hard, tense muscles.
Heat exhaustion symptoms include:
Muscle aches and cramps
Confusion or anxiety
Drenching sweats, often accompanied by cold, clammy skin.
Slowed or weakened heartbeat.
Heat exhaustion requires immediate attention but is not usually life-threatening.
Heat stroke symptoms include:
Nausea and vomiting.
Dizziness or vertigo.
Hot, flushed, dry skin.
Rapid heart rate.
Shortness of breath.
Blood in urine or stool.
Increased body temperature (104 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit).
Confusion, delirium or loss of consciousness.
Heat stroke can occur suddenly, without any symptoms of heat exhaustion. If a person is experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, OBTAIN MEDICAL CARE IMMEDIATELY. Any delay could be fatal. You should seek emergency medical care for anyone who has been in the heat and who has the following symptoms:
Confusion, anxiety or loss of consciousness.
Very rapid or dramatically slowed heartbeat.
Rapid rise in body temperature that reaches 104 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit.
Either drenching sweats accompanied by cold, clammy skin (which may indicate heat exhaustion); or a marked decrease in sweating accompanied by hot, flushed, dry skin (which may indicate heat stroke).
Any other heat-related symptom that is not alleviated by moving to a shady or air-conditioned area and administering fluids and salts.
Understanding Heat-Related Illness – Treatment
What Are the Treatments?
Heat cramps can usually be alleviated by escaping the heat, resting and drinking moderately salty beverages, and eating moderately salty foods. Gentle massage or firm pressure applied to cramping muscles can alleviate spasms. In severe cases, the victim may need intravenous fluids and salts. If your heat cramps do not go away, call your doctor for advice.
For Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke:
First, GET HELP. It is critical that emergency medical assistance be called as soon as possible. Then, if possible, get the victim to drink, but don’t force fluids if the person is confused or has passed out.
The primary treatment for heat exhaustion is replacement of lost fluids and salt. Victims should be moved to a cool environment, lie flat or with their feet raised slightly above head level, and sip a cool, slightly salty beverage — such as a salty sports drink, salted tomato juice, cool bouillon, or plain drinking water with salt added (one level teaspoon of salt per quart of water).
Heat stroke usually develops rapidly and can cause permanent brain damage or death if not treated promptly. Anyone with heat stroke needs emergency medical attention.
While help is on the way, move the victim into the shade; wrap the victim in cool, wet bedding or clothing; or remove the victim’s clothes and sponge his or her body with cool water until help arrives.
Ice packs can be placed on the groin, neck or underarms; or the victim can be fanned by hand or with an electric fan or a blow-dryer set on cold (do not use a blow-dryer that blows only hot air).
If possible, use a thermometer to monitor the person’s temperature, and stop cooling treatments if his or her temperature normalizes.
Once at the hospital, a person who has suffered heat stroke may be given intravenous drugs to control seizures or other complications, may receive additional intravenous fluids, and will likely be confined to bed rest and monitored for 24 hours to several days.