Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are related conditions. Both involve the body becoming overheated; however, the severity, treatment and symptoms vary.

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are related conditions. Both involve the body becoming overheated; however, the severity, treatment and symptoms vary.

Understand the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke to properly manage the condition.

What is heat exhaustion? When the body is exposed to prolonged high temperatures, humidity and physical activity, it’s possible to develop heat exhaustion. If left untreated, life-threatening heat stroke can follow.

What’s the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke? Heat exhaustion is the first step on the way to heat stroke, according to the Mayo Clinic. The symptoms of both conditions are similar, but with heat stroke, the symptoms are more acute. With heat stroke, the body temperature is much higher; the skin is hot, not cool; and passing out or coma are the result of untreated heat exhaustion. Both conditions require immediate cooling of the body to prevent a progression of symptoms. See a doctor for proper care of heat-related illness.

What are the symptoms of heat exhaustion? These signs can come on suddenly or progress more slowly. Symptoms include:

• Sweating heavily
• Rapid but weak pulse
• Cramping of muscles
• Nausea
• Headache
• Dizziness
• Low blood pressure
• Damp, cool skin

What is heat stroke? Continual or protracted exposure to heat, humidity and physical activity can advance from heat exhaustion to heat stroke — a
potentially life-threatening state.

What are the symptoms of heat stroke? Signs of heat stroke include:

• Body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or above
• Cessation of sweating, despite body temperature
• Skin that feels hot to the touch
• Headache
• Mental confusion
• Nausea and vomiting
• Flushing of the skin
• Shallow rapid breathing
• Racing heart beat
• Unconsciousness and even coma
• Muscle weakness and cramps