Heat-illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke are potentially dangerous conditions that can develop if it the becomes too hot. These conditions usually occur during a heatwave or in areas with hot climate, but also when engaging in strenuous physical activities.
- Heat exhaustion – develops if an individual becomes too hot and starts to lose water or salt from the body which causes a generally sick feeling with other symptoms stated below.
- Heatstroke – the body could not cool itself and the body temperature rises to dangerously high levels.
It is important to note that heatstroke is uncommon but serious. It can strain on the brain, lungs, heart, kidneys and liver and can be life-threatening. If heat exhaustion is not detected early, there is a risk that it can progress to heatstroke.
Indications of heat-illnesses
Both heat exhaustion and heatstroke can rapidly develop in a few minutes or in a gradual manner over several hours or days.
Signs of heat exhaustion
- Dizzy or feeling faint
- Weakness and tiredness
- Muscle cramps
- Intense thirst
- Feeling sick
- Profuse sweating
- Rapid pulse rate
- Diminished urination with darker urine than usual
If not treated, severe symptoms of heatstroke will develop which includes:
- Loss of consciousness
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on heat-illnesses is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage heat-illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke by taking a standard first aid course with Victoria First Aid.
What should I do?
If an adult or child has indications of heat exhaustion, the following should be considered:
- Allow the individual to lie down in a cool area such as a room with an air conditioner or shaded area.
- Remove any unwanted clothing to expose as much skin as possible.
- Cool the skin using a damp flannel or sponge or even cold compress around the neck or armpits or simply wrap using a cool, moist sheet.
- Fan the skin while it is moist to help the water evaporate to cool the skin down
- Provide fluids to drink, ideally water, fruit juice or a rehydration beverage such as a sports drink
Always stay with the individual until he/she starts to feel better. In most cases, one can recover within 30 minutes.
If the individual loses consciousness, you have to follow the steps above and place the individual in a recovery position until the emergency team arrives. If a seizure occurs, any nearby objects should be moved out of the way to prevent injury.