Heat Stroke vs Heat Exhaustion

In many parts of the country the temperatures are still soaring! Knowing the differences of heat stroke vs heat exhaustion is important. It may not be the middle of summer so getting overheated may not be at the forefront of your mind.  That can be dangerous!

Heat-related illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion can still creep up on you.  Learn to recognize the symptoms so you can avoid them and the understand the treatments in case you or someone around you presents with them.

Why is this important?

Heat exhaustion can progress into heat stroke which can be life-threatening! It is important to know the symptoms of a heat stroke vs heat exhaustion.

Heatstroke or Sunstroke  is the  MOST SERIOUS heat-related illness. This is when your body temperature rises to 104º or higher.  These high temps can damage your brain & nervous system, circulatory system, lungs, liver, kidneys, digestive tract, and muscles.  This damage is often irreversible!

Heat Exhaustion –  LESS serious but it has the potential to get serious if you are not paying attention . If you think you have heat exhaustion, get out of the sun immediately, rehydrate and rest!

How can you tell you’ve been affected?

Heat stroke begins with heat exhaustion then worsens and although they can develop quickly it can also take up to several days.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion 

  • muscle cramping
  • a rapid, weak pulse
  • a general sense of weakness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • excessive sweating
  • cold, clammy skin
  • dizziness and sometimes fainting
  • dark-colored urine
  • headaches

Symptoms of Heatstroke

  • a temperature of 104ºF or higher
  • hot, dry skin
  • a racing heartbeat
  • confusion
  • agitation
  • slurred speech
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness
  • coma

If your symptoms don’t get better in an hour, seek medical care.  You may be tested for muscle damage, dehydration, heart or lung damage, circulatory problems, and kidney and liver functions.

If you’re hot and I don’t mean sexy hot, and you feel like you’re physically overheating then take the following steps:

  • Move into the shade/Get out of the sun
  • Take off an article of clothing
  • Turn on a fan or the AC
  • Run cool water on your skin
  • Drink fluids especially water and electrolytes that can be found in Gatorade or Nuun tablets

Stay aware and learn the signs of a heat stroke vs heat exhaustion. When it’s really hot outside, take precautions to keep your body cool.  Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day.  Drink extra water and take frequent breaks when working or playing outdoors.  Wear loose clothing, take cool showers, wear a brimmed hat.   Avoid caffeine and alcohol because they are dehydrating. If you’re not sure what to do on these hot days go to the movies, the library or the mall.  They all have AC!

When you know the symptoms to look for you can avoid sunstroke and if you feel you’re affected you’ll be able to cool off more quickly and efficiently!

Annette Poliwka

Annette Poliwka

Annette Poliwka is an Environmentalist and Adventurer who empowers women to get outdoors. She inspires and women to challenge themselves, and to connect with their deeper selves.

She passionately helps people take that first step toward their out of doors goals, where they can own their personal power and build momentum around their dreams. Whether you want to start hiking, plan a backpacking trip, or explore your soul’s desires Annette is your go-to gal!

After spending more than 15 years working to protect the environment for local, federal and international governments on Zero Waste, she started her own company to empower women in the outdoors. Her goal is to rekindle our inner flame, to nourish our inner child, and to embark on the outdoor adventures we’ve dreamt about.