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How to spot and avoid heat exhaustion, heat stroke

Posted at 9:46 AM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 12:23:08-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — We're getting a break from the worst of the summer heat right now, but we know there will be plenty of hot days ahead.

With that in mind, we want to give you some tips on how to stay safe while adventuring outdoors, especially when it comes to knowing the difference between heat exhaustion and a heat stroke. The most important, and obvious, tip to stay hydrated! Also, limit your exposure outside. Take breaks and seek shade if you feel yourself starting to overheat.

Heat exhaustion is considered less severe than heat stroke but one could lead to the other, and heat stroke is more dangerous for your body. Heat exhaustion is typically associated with being sweaty, having an increased heart rate, and feeling dizzy or nauseous. But once your body stops sweating and you become disoriented, your body can start experiencing a heat stroke.

"If it's not treated, then we worry about heat stroke which is more characterized by changes in mental status, confusion, and potentially damage to organs like your heart, or your kidneys and muscles" said Gregory Thacker, an emergency room physician at Penrose Hospital.

Heat Illness
Heat Illness Chart

Thacker explained that certain medications can also cause an added risk of dehydration, and older populations are especially vulnerable to heat stroke. So he recommends that everyone keep that in mind when venturing out on their own or with elderly loved ones.

Thacker also emphasized that drinking plenty of water before, during, and after being active on a hot day is critical.