Tips to Avoid Heat Stroke

Heat stroke, the most serious form of heat injury, can be fatal without proper medical treatment. Milder heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion, often progress to heat stroke if left untreated. Learn how to spot heat stroke and avoid activities that could lead to this heat injury.

Signs of Heat Stroke

Heat stroke occurs when the body’s temperature regulation system fails. It results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, usually in combination with dehydration. When spending time in hot environments, watch for these signs of heat stroke in yourself and others:

  • Body temperature of 104 degrees or higher
  • Fainting
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Hot, red skin
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

How to Avoid Heat Stroke

Instances of heat stroke are closely tied to the heat index, or how hot you feel based on the air temperature and relative humidity. If the heat index climbs to 90 degrees or higher during a heat wave, go to a comfortable, air-conditioned place until the temperature cools down. If you must go outside, avoid heat stroke with these tips:

  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a hat.
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater.
  • Drink at least 24 ounces of water within two hours of exercising. Then, drink 8 ounces of water or electrolyte-rich sports drinks every 20 minutes during exercise.
  • Consider rescheduling outdoor exercise to early morning or after sunset.

Heat Stroke in Elderly People

Heat stroke most often affects athletes and people over age 65, especially if they don’t have air conditioning. Older individuals are more vulnerable to heat stroke because their bodies adjust to rising temperatures more slowly than younger people. Many seniors also have underlying health conditions or take medications that make them less able to adapt to heat. If you have an elderly family member or neighbor, check on them often during heat waves.

Medications that Raise the Risk of Heat Stroke

Certain medications change the body’s response to heat. These include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Diet pills
  • Diuretics
  • Sedatives
  • Stimulants
  • Tranquilizers
  • Seizure medications (anticonvulsants)
  • Heart and blood pressure medications (including beta-blockers and vasoconstrictors)
  • Medications for psychiatric illnesses (including antidepressants and antipsychotics)
  • Some illegal drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine

Check with your doctor to see if any of your medications or health conditions could decrease your ability to cope with high heat and humidity.

Heat Stroke Emergency Care in Texas

If you or someone you’re with is experiencing heat stroke symptoms, visit the nearest emergency room for medical care. Exceptional Emergency Center is a freestanding emergency clinic providing heat stroke treatment in 13 locations across Texas. We accept walk-ins 24/7, and we offer shorter wait times than a hospital ER. To inquire about our emergency room services, please contact us today.

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The Exceptional Emergency Room staff and physicians care about you and your loved ones. We are here 24/7 for all your emergency care needs.

  1. If you are experiencing fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, weakness, numbness, sensory loss, or any other emergent medical problems, please call 911 or seek medical care immediately at your nearest Emergency Room.
  2. To provide the highest quality emergency medical care to our communities, we are directing all routine COVID testing to outpatient community resources.
  3. Testing through local resources, including your primary care doctor, urgent care, walk-in clinic, or local health department, is appropriate under the following circumstances:
    1. If you have been exposed to a person known to have COVID, and you do not have symptoms, we recommend that you self-quarantine at home and seek testing 4-5 days after exposure. It often takes this long for the infection to be detected by routine lab testing.
    2. If you have no symptoms or very mild symptoms, outpatient testing is also typically appropriate.
    3. Please follow this link for local COVID testing resources.
  4. If you have tested negative, you should still self-quarantine for 14 days from the day of suspected exposure as it can take anywhere from 2-14 days to come down with symptoms of this infection.
  5. Please kindly limit your phone time with our Emergency Rooms as the phone lines are needed to communicate with other health care entities and to provide patients their test results. Thank you for your understanding during this trying time.