This summer, the summer of COVID, we are doing more outside than ever before as it’s one of the safer places to be while social distancing. Being outdoors is a healthy thing but as the summer temperatures heat up it’s important to protect yourself from heatstroke.
Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heatstroke can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F or higher. If untreated, heatstroke can damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles.
Over the years, we’ve conditioned ourselves to protect ourselves from the sun by slathering on the sunscreen to protect our skin or wearing a hat to stay cool. Knowing the warning signs of heatstroke is another protective measure everyone should take. Some of these signs are not well-known and can be easily ignored. These often-overlooked signs can be first-sign indicators of heatstroke. With that in mind, here are five signs of heatstroke you should never ignore:
If you are feeling sick to your stomach, the potato salad you ate may not be to blame. Nausea is a common but often overlooked sign of heatstroke. A passing wave of nausea may be nothing to worry about, especially if you do not have any other symptoms. But if that queasy feeling sticks with you, it is time to seek medical help.
Cold Clammy Skin
When the sun is shining bright and the temperatures are soaring, you would expect your skin to reflect the heat. If your skin feels cold and clammy instead of hot to the touch, you may be suffering from heatstroke. If you do feel cold and clammy, you should get out of the heat right away. Take a break from the sun and give your body a chance to recover.
Dizziness can have many causes, from the side effects of common medications to dehydration caused by excessive heat and heavy sweating. If you feel dizzy or disoriented when you stand up, it could be a sign of heatstroke.
Feeling dizzy is a big concern, especially if you also have other symptoms of heatstroke. If your dizziness does not go away after a couple of minutes, it is time to seek medical help.
If you are feeling tired or weak, excessive heat could be to blame. It is not unusual to feel a bit run down when the temperature is high, especially if you are doing yard work or exercising, but extreme muscle weakness or pain should always be cause for concern.
If you do experience this symptom, topical treatments may be able to help. But if the pain and weakness persist, you will want to seek help.
Headaches have many causes, from stress to bright lights. Heatstroke can also cause a sudden headache. You should be especially concerned about your headache if you also have other unexplained symptoms like cold clammy skin, muscle weakness, and dizziness.
Summer is a wonderful time of year, but it can also have its dangers. Heatstroke is one of the most serious dangers summer revelers face, and it is important to know all the warning signs, including the five unusual and often overlooked symptoms listed above.
If you think you or someone you know is experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number.
Take immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment.
- Get the person into shade or indoors.
- Remove excess clothing.
- Cool the person with whatever means available — put in a cool tub of water or a cool shower, spray with a garden hose, sponge with cool water, fan while misting with cool water, or place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person’s head, neck, armpits and groin.