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Symptoms of Heat Stroke: How to Know If You Have Heat Stroke

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As temperatures rise across Los Angeles and heatwaves get longer, it’s important to make sure that you’re keeping yourself healthy and safe when spending time outside.

Heat stroke is a serious condition that can happen due to simply too much exposure to high temperatures, typically in the summer months. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the signs and symptoms of the heat-related illness and when to see a doctor for heat stroke in Los Angeles.

Woman getting overheated during a workout

Causes of Heat Stroke

Simply put, heat stroke happens when your body overheats. As a result, it’s unable to regulate its temperature, raising your body’s overall body temperature and leading to the potentially severe symptoms we’ll explore below.

The most common causes of heat stroke are exposure to extremely high temperatures and overexertion in high temperatures. Heat stroke caused by sports is something to watch out for if you participate in outdoor sports during the summer months.

Dehydration is a factor that can exacerbate heat stroke, as your body needs to take in more liquids when temperatures are high. Excessive caffeine, alcohol, and too many layers of clothing in hot weather, chronic conditions, and certain medications are also risk factors.

In places like Los Angeles, temperatures inland are worsened by the ”heat island effect.”

The city is dense in its infrastructure and population, which makes it hotter and more humid than areas that are more rural or closer to the coast, where sea breezes aren’t stopped by tall buildings.

That means you don’t necessarily have to overexert yourself outdoors to suffer from heat stroke, only be exposed to extreme heat over time.

Symptoms of Heat stroke

Heat stroke typically doesn’t come on immediately. You’ll likely notice signs of heat exhaustion, first, such as:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Clamminess
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue or low blood pressure
  • Weak or rapid pulse

If not addressed with rest, fluids, and efforts to cool the body down, heat exhaustion can become heat stroke, a more serious medical condition.

Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • A body temperature of 104 degrees or higher
  • Flushed skin
  • Personality changes, confusion, a disoriented state
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Racing pulse
  • Severe headache
  • Rapid breathing

Left untreated, heat stroke can lead to loss of consciousness, seizures, organ failure, even death.

Little boy getting overheated while playing at the playground

How Do You Treat Heat stroke?

Seek heat stroke treatment in Los Angeles immediately if you or someone you’re with is exhibiting heat stroke signs. While awaiting medical attention, there are a few things you can do to prevent the most serious symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Move indoors or to a cool, shaded area
  • Remove any excess clothing
  • Start cooling methods

Any cooling method that works to start dropping the body’s temperature is a positive step. For example, enter a cold tub of water or shower, spray with cold water, fan the skin while keeping it moist with cool towels or water spray, or use cold packs at the armpits, neck, groin, or back.

Once help arrives or you’re able to get to a healthcare professional, you’ll likely get a temperature check followed by lab tests to confirm heat stroke. After that, medications may follow continued cooling techniques to help a person stop shivering or relax the muscles.

Recovery from heat stroke can take several days. More severe cases that require hospitalization can take much longer, so it’s crucial to understand ways to prevent heat stroke.

Woman drinking water on a sunny day

Ways to Prevent Heat stroke

The best way to prevent heat stroke in LA is to limit time out in the sun when the heat is at its worst. Try to time any needed time outdoors during the morning and evening hours when it’s cooler, and any heat-related illness risk is lessened.

If you cannot spend high heat days in cool spaces, there are a few additional ways to prevent heat stroke and a medical emergency.

Dress for the weather. Wear hats to keep the heat off your face, and avoid tight-fitting, dark clothing. Wear sunscreen, and reapply after any time in the water or vigorous activity.

Keep yourself hydrated throughout your time spent outside. You’ll need to drink more than you usually do, as your body is losing liquids to more sweat from the heat. If you’re participating in sports or recreational activities where you’re more active than usual, sports drinks with electrolytes may help not only to hydrate you but return necessary minerals depleted during exercise.

If you have a condition that may put you at additional risk for heat stroke, take extra precautions. Talk to a doctor about any extra steps you can take to reduce your risk or whether any medications you may be taking may be putting you at risk for a heat-related illness.

Many applying sunscreen to his arm

See a Doctor for Heat stroke

Heat stroke is a serious condition that can take a turn for the worse quite suddenly. Now that you know the symptoms, you know when to seek medical attention for heat stroke: immediately.

For follow-up care, book an appointment online for heat stroke. An urgent care facility will also be able to see you for symptoms of heat exhaustion to ensure that what you’re experiencing won’t develop into heat stroke.