Protecting yourself from the sun isn’t the only thing we should be concerned about when being outside. With the Pasco region seeing temperatures in the 90s for the past several days, it’s important to protect yourself from dehydration, which can lead to other serious health issues such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. What is the difference between the two? They both have similar symptoms. A person with either will have fatigue, confusion, dizziness, muscle aches, headache, weakness, and nausea. With heat exhaustion, the body becomes overheated, hitting a temperature of up to 104 degrees. To combat this, the body will sweat substantially. But with heatstroke, body temperature goes between 104 and 106 degrees, compromising the body’s cooling system where it can no longer sweat. The body can overheat so fast that it goes straight to heat stroke, preventing the body from having a chance to cool off through excessive sweating. Another main difference is heart rate. With heat exhaustion, you have a slow heart rate, while heat stroke causes a fast heartbeat. Lastly, you feel thirsty with heat exhaustion, but not the case with heat stroke (Birn, 2017).
Both can be life threatening. Whether you’re outside for fun, for work, or for outdoor home tasks, take precautions from the heat (CDC.gov):
- Schedule outdoor activities in the mornings or evenings if possible.
- Drink water throughout. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Thirst is a sign of dehydration, so don’t get to that point.
- Stay hydrated with water or, if you are heavily sweating, a sports drink to replace electrolytes if your doctor approves.
- Wear sunscreen. A sunburn can cause dehydration and make it harder for the body to cool down.
- Wear light-colored, lightweight, and loose-fitting clothing.
And of course, never leave your kids in the car, even if the windows are cracked. Kids are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Pets, too, should not be left in a car.
Birn, C.K. What’s the Difference Between Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion? (2017). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.html
Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.html