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How to Know the Difference Between Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion

When the weather starts heating up, you need to learn the warning signs and prevention of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke is more serious and requires immediate medical assistance. But, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke if you aren’t careful. Both are serious and can be prevented. Muscle cramping is the first sign you might be experiencing heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Other symptoms include:

Heat exhaustion symptoms:

  1. Weakness and fatigue.
  2. Heavy sweating that keeps increasing.
  3. Weak, but faster pulse or heart rate.
  4. Nausea or vomiting.
  5. Pale, cold, clammy skin.

Heat stroke symptoms:

  1. A body temperature over 103 F.
  2. Rapid and strong pulse or heart rate.
  3. Loss of consciousness.
  4. Hot, red, dry or moist skin.

Keep in mind heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke and heat stroke is more dangerous.

Heat exhaustion or heat stroke can be caused by dehydration, alcohol use in hot weather, wearing heavy and tight clothing in hot temperatures or being outdoors in the heat for long periods of time without shade or proper hydration. Infants, children and senior citizens are more at risk. Obese people or those who take high blood pressure or heart condition medication may reduce your ability to stay hydrated and risk heat stroke or heat exhaustion. If the weather is over 91 degrees, your risk increases as well.

If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, see a doctor right away. If someone is unconscious in the hot weather, call 911 immediately. In the meantime, look for a shady area, get in air conditioning and drink plenty of water and sports drinks to rehydrate.

To prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke, drink plenty of water when you are outside in hot weather. Reduce intake of alcohol or caffeinated beverages or hydrate more when you are drinking an alcoholic or caffeinated beverage. On really hot days, stay out of the sun during midday when the temperatures are the highest or stay indoors in the air conditioning. Wear light weight clothing and light colors. Take frequent breaks when exercising outdoors. Never stay in a warm car or leave a child or pet outside in the car while you go inside a store.

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can be very dangerous but is easily prevented. If you work outdoors in the hot summer months, be sure to drink plenty of water and take breaks in shade or indoors. You might also want to eat more hydrating foods like cucumbers and watermelon or keep a cool towel around your neck.

Have you ever experienced heat stroke or heat exhaustion? Did you know there was a difference? What are your favorite prevention tips? Share with us!

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Lauren Stewart
By: Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart is a freelancer writer from Michigan. She enjoys writing about beauty, health and fitness! She is passionate about learning new ways to take control of her health and wellness and is a makeup and skincare junkie! You can contact her by emailing