Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

By Nancy Bellemare, MD

Dr. Bellemare, of the Ochsner Medical Center - Kenner Emergency Department, discusses Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke. Heat Exhaustion is a condition when people exercise, either through work or play, in hot humid environment and they have an excess loss of body fluids, meaning that they are sweating excessively.  This causes the body to overheat and leads to an elevation of the body temperature.  The symptoms include: paleness, coolness to the skin, sweating, muscle cramps, being faint or dizzy, weakness, headaches, excessive thirst, and nausea. How to treat heat exhaustion: rest in a cool shaded area, drink cool fluids, loosen the clothing, and avoid caffeinated drinks.
Heat stroke is a more serious version of heat exhaustion.  The cooling process of the body, which is controlled by the brain, can shut down due to the excessive elevation of the body temperature.  The symptoms are similar to those of heat exhaustion but are more severe and can include: abnormal mental status - confusion, flushed skin, and unconsciousness.  Heat stroke should be treated by seeking immediate medical attention at a hospital.  It is important to remember heat safety to avoid these conditions.

Dr. Bellemare practices at Ochsner Medical Center - Kenner. She can be reached 1-866-OCHSNER.

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