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Heat-Related Illness Symptoms and First Aid

With warm temperatures on the rise, it is important to heat related illness on your radar. The heat and humidity can make it difficult for the body to cool itself down. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) some factors that make some individuals more prone to heat illness include:

  • Age

  • Obesity

  • Fever

  • Heart disease

  • Mental illness

  • Poor circulation

  • Prescription drug and alcohol use

  • Sunburn

Properly identifying heat illness can be tricky. According to NOAA, here’s how to identify heat illness and what you should do.

Heat Cramps


  • Painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in legs and abdomen

  • Heavy sweating

First Aid:

  • Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gentle massage to relieve spasm.

  • Give sips of water, if nausea occurs, discontinue water

Heat Exhaustion


  • Heavy sweating

  • Weakness

  • Cool, pale, clammy skin

  • Weak pulse

  • Possible muscle cramps

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Fainting

  • Normal temperature possible

First Aid:

  • Move person to a cooler environment

  • Remove or loosen clothing

  • Apply cool, wet cloths

  • Fan or move victim to air conditioned room

  • Offer sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue water. If vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention.

Heat Stroke


  • Altered mental state

  • Possible throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, shallow breathing

  • High body temperature (106°F or higher)

  • Skin may be hot and dry, or patient may be sweating

  • Rapid pulse

  • Possible unconsciousness

First Aid:

  • Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment

  • Reduce body temperature with a water mister and fan or sponging

  • Use fan if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s

  • Use extreme caution

  • If temperature rises again, repeat process

  • Do NOT give fluids

Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Call 911 or get the individual to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.



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