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Tablet with the word Heat Stroke on the display

When Heat Stroke Strikes

By Jason Kruger, MD June 05, 2020 Posted in: Wellness


Heat stroke is an elevated body temperature associated with altered mental status—confusion, weakness, dizziness. It can happen quickly, in as little as five minutes in certain temperatures.

Heat Stroke Can Cause The Following:

  • Fevers
  • Muscle weakness
  • Heart racing
  • Dizziness
  • Passing out

People of Extreme Ages Struggle With Heat

People who are either really old or really young have a lot of trouble acclimating their body to the excessive heat outside. It’s important to get them out of the hot weather and make sure they’re getting enough fluids.

The Most Common Causes Of Heat Stroke Are:

  • People being outside too long on a hot, sunny day.
  • Elderly people who may be at home without access to air conditioning to keep them cooled off.

With elderly people, sometimes medications affect their ability to sweat and to regulate their body temperature. So, elderly people can be more susceptible to heat stroke.

How to Prevent Heat Stroke

To prevent heat stroke, you need to be very mindful of staying hydrated all the time. At this time of the year, the goal is to avoid the really hot parts of the day, to not be outside for excessive amounts of time, and to pay special attention to young children. Certainly with sports and practices, keep the kids well hydrated and give them a chance to be in the shade.

Be mindful to not forget children or pets inside of vehicles. Every year across the United States we see tragedies where children or pets are left inside hot vehicles.

If your child, friend or neighbor is experiencing signs of heat stroke—altered mental status, confusion, weakness, dizziness—please get them out of the heat. Then, get them water, and seek emergency medical attention for any severe signs or symptoms.

For more questions, reach out to your CHI Health Primary Care Provider.

Jason Kruger, MD
Jason Kruger, MD

Dr. Jason Kruger is an emergency medicine physician at CHI Health.

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