Heatstroke – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment


Heatstroke – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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What is Heatstroke?

Heatstroke is caused when your body overheats, causing your body’s temperature regulating mechanism to fail, usually as a result of long exposure to or physical activity in high temperature (104 F or higher).

Heatstroke is a serious condition that is caused when your body overheats. It can be the result of spending too much time in the heat or by overexerting yourself when it is hot outside.

Heatstroke occurs when your body reaches a temperature of 104 F or more. It can cause a stroke, brain damage, or death if it is left untreated.

Heatstroke can be a very serious condition. It is the most serious of all heat related injuries and it requires immediate medical treatment by a physician.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of heatstroke, visit SignatureCare Emergency Center emergency rooms immediately for fast treatment. Our emergency rooms are open 24/7, 365 days a year to treat all medical emergencies. You will be treated by a team of board-certified physicians in a state-of-the-art medical facility. Make an appointment today!

Causes of Heatstroke

While heatstroke is preventable, there are several factors that can put you at a higher risk of elevating your body temperature and suffering heatstroke.

Hot Environment

If you spend a prolonged period of time in a hot, humid environment, you could be at risk of increasing your body temperature to a dangerous level. This is known as classic heatstroke and it occurs most often in those with chronic illnesses or in older adults.

Strenuous Outdoor Activity

If you perform a strenuous activity in hot weather, you are at risk for exertional heatstroke. This can happen as you are working or exercising outdoors, and you may be especially susceptible to exertional heatstroke if you are not accustomed to warm or humid climate.

Too Much Clothing

If you are wearing thick, dark clothes, your body will absorb the heat of the sun and you will not be able to sweat properly, which can cause your body temperature to rise. Wearing too much clothing in high temperature can put you at risk of heat stroke.

Alcohol Consumption

When you consume alcohol, your body has a difficult time regulating its temperature. This can make you more susceptible to heatstroke if you are drinking alcohol outside on a hot day.


As your body loses fluids through sweating, you must replenish them by drinking plenty of fluids. If you do not stay hydrated, your body may not be able to cool itself off when you get hot.

Heatstroke Emergency Room Diagnosis

In the emergency room, heatstroke is diagnosed by observing the symptoms and signs in the person exposed to excessive heat.

Symptoms of Heatstroke

Symptoms of heat stroke include the following. Not all symptoms need to be present for ER doctors to diagnose heatstroke in a patient.

  • Confusion
  • High body temperature
  • Agitation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Disorientation
  • Absence of sweating
  • Coma
  • Headache
  • Racing heart rate

Heat stroke Complications

Heatstroke can lead to a number of complications depending on the amount of time the body temperature has been high.

  • Death – Without immediate medical treatment, heatstroke can lead to death.
  • Vital Organ Damage – It is essential that the body temperature is lowered as quickly as possible. If the body temperature is not lowered immediately, heatstroke can lead to swelling of your brain and other vital organs leading to permanent damage.

How to Prevent Heatstroke

  • Wear lightweight, loose fitting clothes when the temperature is high
  • Protect against sunburn
  • Never leave anyone in a parked, hot car outside when temperatures are expected to rise
  • Drink a lot of fluids, especially water and stay hydrated
  • Watch your medications. Some medications can stop your body from staying hydrated or properly regulating its temperature
  • Stay indoors when it is hot. Mid-day is usually when temperatures are elevated. Stay indoors unless you absolutely must be outside
  • Get used to the weather. If you are not, it may be wise to spend more time indoors until you do
  • Be cautious if you are at higher risk. If you are elderly, a young child or take medications that affect body temperatures, you need to exercise caution during the times the temperature is expected to be high

When to Seek Medical Attention for Heatstroke

If you think that that someone is suffering from heatstroke, you should immediately contact emergency medical professionals or take them to the nearest emergency room for immediate treatment.

Treatment of Heatstroke

Doctors treat heatstroke by lowering the body temperatures of the victims to the normal temperature. This prevents or reduces damage to vital organs or even death. Following are ways to lower body temperatures and treat heat stroke victims.

  • Immerse them in cold water
  • Pack the victim in ice and cooling blankets
  • Use medications to stop you from shivering
  • Use evaporation cooling treatment options

Heatstroke is a serious medical condition, and it is common among those who spend a great deal of time outdoors.

If you are concerned that you or someone else is suffering from heatstroke, please visit one of our emergency rooms near you. Our board-certified doctors are available 24/7 to assist you with your medical emergencies. Schedule an emergency room appointment with us.