Heat Illnesses

woman drinking water

Your chances of getting heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or other heat-related illness during travel depend on your destination, activities, level of hydration, and age. Travelers who relax on a beach or by a pool are unlikely to get heat-related illness. The more active you are in high temperatures, the more likely you are to get a heat-related illness. Learn how to prevent, recognize, and treat heat-related illness.

Follow These Tips to Stay Safe in the Heat

  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.
  • Wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and reapply every two hours or follow instructions on the package.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day.
  • Rest often and try to stay in the shade when outdoors.
  • If you will be doing strenuous activities in the heat such as hiking or biking, try to adjust before you travel by exercising 1 hour per day in the heat.

Some People are More Likely to Get Ill

The elderly, young children, and people with chronic conditions are more likely to get heat-related illness and become ill more quickly compared to healthy adults. However, even young and healthy people can get heat-related illness from spending too much time in the heat.

Serious Heat Illnesses

Many heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps and heat rash can be treated by getting out of the heat and getting hydrated. However, some can be more serious and it is important to know how to identify signs of serious heat-related illness early and get treatment.

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a mild heat-related illness that occurs hot temperatures and when you do not drink enough water or other non-alcoholic fluics. People at highest risk for heat exhaustion are the elderly, those with high blood pressure, and those working or exercising in the heat.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • excessive thirst
  • profuse sweating
  • headache
  • dizziness or confusion
  • nausea

If you or anyone you are traveling with has these symptoms, get out of the sun immediately and try to cool off with a fan, air conditioning, or by getting in cool water. Also, drink cool, non-alcoholic beverages such as water or sports drinks with electrolytes.

Heat stroke

Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, a serious heat-related illness. Heat stroke is when body’s temperature rises quickly, and your body cannot cool itself down. 

Early symptoms of heat stroke are similar to those of heat exhaustion but lead to more severe symptoms including:

  • Lack of sweating.
  • Body temperature rising to 106°F or higher within 10-15 minutes. Even with no thermometer, skin will feel very hot to the touch.
  • Loss of consciousness.

Seek medical help immediately. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

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