Heat Stroke vs. Heat Exhaustion

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke are two related health conditions that can be very serious if not treated quickly and effectively. Both, Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke are caused by a mild-extreme elevation in body temperature which is normally controlled by sweating. Sweating allows a person to cool through evaporation, but once a person becomes too dehydrated to sweat, the body temperature can rise rapidly and dramatically. High humidity can also prevent sweat from evaporating, again, not allowing a person to cool effectively and eventually resulting in a heat induced illness.

Heat Exhaustion is likely to occur when a person's body temperature rises above 37 degrees but below 40 degrees celsius.

Heat Stroke is the most serious form of heat-related illnesses, with a body temperature higher than 40 degrees celsius.

The two heat conditions, although caused by a dramatic rise in body temperature, present very different signs and symptoms.


Heat Exhaustion: 

Temperature 37-40 degrees celsius

What Are The Signs of Heat Exhaustion?

  • Heavily Sweating
  • Pupils Dilated

What Are The Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion?

  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness) as a result in decreased blood pressure and blood volume. This is caused by a loss of body fluids and salts after being exposed to high heat for a prolonged period of time.
  • Faint/Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Possibly Collapse

How Do You Manage Heat Exhaustion?

  1. Lie the casualty down
  2. Loosen and remove excessive clothing
  3. Moisten skin with a moist cloth/washer
  4. Cool by fanning
  5. If the casualty is fully conscious, give them cool water to drink

Without the correct management of heat exhaustion, the casualty could quickly develop heat stroke.


Heat Stroke: 

Temperature above 40 degrees celsius

What Are The Signs of Heat Stroke?

  • Dry Skin (lack of sweating)
  • Rapid, Shallow Breathing
  • Pupils Concentrated

What Are The Symptoms of Heat Stroke?

  • Vertigo
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Thirst
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Muscle cramps

How Do You Manage Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke is a serious and life threatening condition.

  1. Call 000 and ask for an Ambulance
  2. Follow DRSABCD
  3. Place the casualty in a cool environment
  4. Moisten the skin with a moist cloth/washer and fan repeatedly
  5. Apply wrapped ice packs to neck, groin and armpits

Certain people are at greater risk of developing heatstroke, or suffering serious complications from severe dehydration. These people should be taken to hospital immediately:

  • Children, under two years of age
  • Elderly people
  • People with Kidney, Heart or Circulation problems
  • People with Diabetes who depend on insulin.


How Do You Prevent a Heat-Induced Illness?

Prevention is the best way to manage heat-induced illness. This includes:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Drink less tea, coffee and alcoholic beverages to avoid dehydration
  • Wear lightweight, light coloured and loose fitting clothing
  • Make sure the clothes you are wearing are made from a fabric which allows you to "breathe" and lets sweat evaporate
  • Protect yourself outside. This includes 'Slip, Slop. Slap. Seek, Slide'.
  • Limit physical activity and the time you spend doing outdoor activities. If this is difficult, schedule outdoor activities for cooler parts of the day (before 10am and after 4pm).
  • Don't leave children or pets in cars
  • Relax and Stay Cool
  • Keep your energy level up by eating well nourished foods, which includes plenty of  fruit and vegetables
  • Watch out for others, including the elderly, young, pregnant and active

Our First Aid Training

If you need to learn first aid, look into our training courses:

To practice managing a heat-affected victim, Australia Wide First Aid's Provide First Aid course will educate you in the fundamentals of first aid. Not only will the course prepare you with the knowledge required to provide a first aid response, but the practical component in the course will give you the skills to provide life support during the management of casualty(s), the incident and other First Aiders at the scene.

Book online today, via the booking form on the top, right hand side of this page or call us on 1300 336 613 to speak to one of our Customer Experience Specialist's.

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