Recognize the Symptoms of Heat Illness

— Written By and last updated by Nancie Mandeville

heat related illnesses chart

With the high temperatures that we have had this summer, you should understand the symptoms related to letting yourself get overheated when outside. The symptoms can range from fatigue and cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke which can increase the risk of complications from other illnesses such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, emphysema, or asthma. Symptoms to watch for are:

  • Cramps due to excessive sweating typically develop in the thigh muscles indicating a deficiency of electrolytes. Taking in electrolytes through fruit or sports drinks can help alleviate this.
  • Heat exhaustion symptoms include nausea, chills, dizziness, and dehydration. Once you notice these symptoms, stop what you’re doing and cool off. Apply wet towels to help your body cool.
  • Heatstroke is much more serious. Symptoms include a lack of sweat, headache, rapid pulse, altered mental state, confusion, lethargy, seizures, and even unconsciousness and a body temperature over 101 F.

The body is efficient at maintaining normal body temperature through evaporation of sweat. On really hot days, with maximum exertion, a person can sweat up to two quarts an hour. While you can’t control the heat and humidity, you can control your activity level. Be aware of your own limitations. When you begin to notice the first signs of heat illness, reduce or stop the activity, get inside under the air conditioner if you can or if not get in the shade, remove excess clothing, apply cool cloths to help lower body temperature, drink fluids, and take it easy.

Drink plain, old-fashioned water to replace fluids if you’ve been outside for several hours. If you’ve been sweating profusely for more than a few hours, you’ll need to replace electrolytes, too. Eat a banana, drink fruit juices, or drink a sports drink that provides electrolytes. Be aware of the symptoms and risks of heat-related illness and stop and take a break to avoid illness related to overheating.

Even though the 2020 Union County Heritage Festival is going virtual, we hope that by September 19, we will have more fall-like temperatures that everyone can enjoy. Check out all the activities that will be available virtually at Union County Heritage Festival.