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Don't Let Heat Stroke Strike

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

Heat stroke can cause fevers, muscle weakness, heart racing, dizziness, and passing out.

People of extreme ages—either the 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. Or, elderly people who may be trapped at home without access to air conditioning or appropriate fans 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.

In order to prevent heat stroke, you need to be very mindful to stay well hydrated this time of the year, to avoid the really hot parts of the day, not be outside for excessive amounts of time, and 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.

It’s extremely important to be mindful and 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 you child, friend or neighbor is experiencing signs of heat stroke—altered mental status, confusion, weakness, dizziness—it’s important to immediately get them out of the heat, get them water, and seek emergency medical attention for any severe signs or symptoms.

Jason Kruger, MD

Emergency Medicine