Common Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Group of construction workers on a break at a building site

Almost every year, we publish a Weekly Safety Meeting on heat-related illnesses. This year, our safety calendar was filled with other subjects, so we’ll give you a quick bonus Meeting here. Here are the most common symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms 

  • Cool, moist skin
  • Heavy sweating
  •  Faintness
  •  Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache

Heat Stroke Symptoms

  • High body temperature
  • Hot and dry or sweaty skin, depending on the situation
  • Flushed skin
  • Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, delirium, seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Racing heart rate
  • Headache

Knowing The Facts Can Save Lives

When you’re dealing with heat illnesses, the difference between fact and fiction can be the difference between life and death. Remind your people about these facts and fictions:

FICTION: Heat stroke is not a real emergency. It cannot be treated with rest and ice water. If you suspect heatstroke, call 911. Take the victim to a cool location and try to get their body temperature down while you’re waiting for the ambulance. You can put ice packs on the victim’s groin, neck, back, and armpits. If you’re able to cool them down, you may save their life.

FICTION: Heat stroke victims don’t sweat, so if the victim is sweaty, it’s not an emergency. While it’s true that heat-stroke victims often stop sweating, they may sweat profusely if the heat stroke was brought about by heavy exertion.

FACT: If you have cardiovascular disease or diabetes, you have a higher risk of developing heat exhaustion or heat stroke. People who live with cardiovascular disease and diabetes are more likely to experience heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Other circumstances—like drug and alcohol use, obesity, or pregnancy, for instance—can also change the way your body copes with the heat. When you have to work in the heat, stay hydrated and take frequent short breaks in a cool place.

First-Aid Weather Health