|Back to article|
Heat emergencies fall into three categories of increasing severity: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
Heat illnesses are easily preventable by taking precautions in hot weather.
Children, elderly, and obese people have a higher risk of developing heat illness. People taking certain medications or drinking alcohol also have a higher risk. However, even a top athlete in superb condition can succumb to heat illness if he or she ignores the warning signs.
If the problem isn't addressed, heat cramps (caused by loss of salt from heavy sweating) can lead to heat exhaustion (caused by dehydration), which can progress to heatstroke. Heatstroke, the most serious of the three, can cause shock, brain damage, organ failure, and even death.
Heat emergencies are caused by prolonged exposure to extreme heat. The following are common causes of heat emergencies:
The early symptoms of heat illness include:
Later symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
The symptoms of heatstroke include:
Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if
Call 911 if:
Jardine DS. Heat illness and heat stroke. Pediatr Rev. 2007;28:249-258.
Platt M, Vicario S. Heat illness. In: Marx JA, HockbergerRS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 139.
Reviewed by:Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorousstandards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information andservices. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorialpolicy, editorialprocess, and privacypolicy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch.)
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatmentof any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 2015 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication ordistribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.