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Difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 7:47 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -The warmer weather is upon us and that has many heading outside to enjoy the heat. But..if you’re out too long you run the risk of developing heat exhaustion or heat stroke.. But, what is the difference between the two? Megan Cole explains.

Spending days in the sun can seem like a good idea, but health care professionals say it’s important to be cautious.

“Most folks will experience in the summertime if they’re dehydrated or in the hot sun for too long. There are subtle differences between heat exhaustion and heat stroke and frankly it’s much more treatable as well. Heat exhaustion most common side effects you’re gonna notice your excessively sweating, you’re feeling more hot than normal, fatigue, you may have a headache, you may feel nauseous or vomit and those are the most signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion.”

Joel Whitaker is a physician assistant at Northern Light AR Gould Emergency and walk in clinic. He says if heat exhaustion isn’t treated, it could develop into heat stroke.

“You’re gonna notice that people could be confused or delirious, you might have a temperature, typically the temperature of the body is usually a 104 degrees and above which isn’t really compatible for human life for an extended period of time. So you’ll also notice basically excessive heart rates, more rapid breathing. You’ll also notice that generally people will no longer be sweating and that’s kind of a big key there is if you’re hot but no longer sweating, that’s considered a life threatening emergency. "

Whitaker says the best way to prevent these is by staying cool and drink plenty of water.

“Limiting your exposure to the outdoors and out of the heat. Keep in mind that heat exhaustion can happen on an average warm days, it’s less likely, the hotter the day the more humid generally speaking the higher the risk but staying in a cool, shaded area and limiting your exposure to the sun and drinking plenty of water. You know some of these sugary, carbonated drinks, you know Gatorade, powerade, those things are ok in small doses but really water is the best thing for your body. Excessive sugar can actually dehydrate you more than anything.”

Whitaker says if you suspect someone has heat stroke, call 911 or get them to the nearest hospital.

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