Heat stroke vs heat exhaustion

Heat stroke vs heat exhaustion

Well, it’s looking like that barbecue summer has finally arrived after all those years of promise! Along with the barbecues comes the traditional baring of the white legs that haven’t seen daylight in the winter months!

But the dash to turn the white flesh into a rosy pink means often we don’t take the precautions to protect ourselves from the heat of summer. Here are a few things to look out for in the heat of summer and keep safe.

A lot of people get heat stroke and heat exhaustion mixed up. Here’s the difference. When the body core temperature goes up by a couple of degrees, we start to sweat, that’s the way the body attempts to cool us down. So, the very first thing is to take on water to support the loss.

This first stage is what is known as heat exhaustion. It’s when you get very sweaty, but you also feel shivery, often getting stomach cramps and feeling sick.

The first step is to bring the core temperature down, lots of water sipped to rehydrate but also soak towels and drape them over the head of the person to cool them down. Don’t go for fizzy drinks or alcohol. The composition of these drinks, actually makes it is harder for the body to intake the valuable water, so keep it simple, and opt for tap water or a mixture of 50% water and 50% pure fruit juice.

Heat stroke that is the real concern here. A lot of people say they have had this but often it’s mistaken for heat exhaustion. The big difference is that with heat stroke you stop sweating.

Your body recognises that It is losing fluid so stops sweating. The problem is, now there is no way of natural cooling so as the core temperature increases, a severe headache develops and eventually fits, while in severe cases death.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. If someone is overheating but not sweating call 999. As you wait for the emergency services to arrive follow the steps above for heat exhaustion but continually monitor the person breathing and keep the emergency services up to date.

The main thing is to remember is to keep up the fluids and avoid the heat of the day. And enjoy those barbecues!

If you would like to learn more about heat exhaustion and heat stroke and how to help, attend one of our First Aid courses in London.