Monday, 3 Oct 2022

Symptoms of heatstroke that you could so easily miss

Britons have been warned of the health impacts of extreme temperatures as a heatwave takes hold.

By Friday afternoon, temperatures are to soar as high as 35C in southern areas of the UK, which will be hotter than some places in the Caribbean. 

A four-day amber warning for extreme heat from the Met Office is in place for much of England and Wales until Sunday, with warnings of health impacts.

That means there is an increased risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion which usually happen during a heatwave or in an exceptionally hot climate.

Here’s how to recognise the symptoms of these conditions and what to do if someone you know appears to be suffering from them.

What is heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion occurs when your body loses too much salt and water, causing you to feel unwell.

If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke.

If it turns into heat stroke, it needs to be treated as an emergency.

According to the NHS, symptoms include:

  • a headache
  • dizziness and confusion
  • loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
  • cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • fast breathing or pulse
  • a high temperature of 38C or above
  • being very thirsty

What is heat stroke?

This is when the body can no longer cool itself down, resulting in your body temperature becoming higher than usual.

Heat stroke is different to sun stroke as this is a result of hot weather rather than being caused by too much exposure to the sun.

Heat stroke can be very dangerous as it puts pressure on the brain, heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. It can be life-threatening too.

A body temperature of 40°C or above is also a sign of heat stroke, advises the NHS.

According to the NHS, symptoms include:

  • Feeling confused
  • No sweating
  • Temperature over 40C, dry skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Losing consciousness or seizures or convulsions

The NHS advises anyone experiencing heat exhaustion symptoms to cool down, by using ice packs on the skin, drinking plenty of water and ideally lying down in a cool place with their feet slightly elevated.

You should wait 30 minutes to see if the person still feels unwell with the symptoms mentioned above which could mean they have heat stroke.

This is a medical emergency requiring a 999 call.

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