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Be cautious outside, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can strike at any time

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Posted at 3:49 PM, Jul 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-27 18:58:39-04

With rising temperatures in Kern County, it is important to know the differences between heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

According to WebMD, heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that can occur after being exposed to high temperatures and is usually accompanied with dehydration. There are two types, water depletion and salt depletion.

Symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Pale skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat

Without taking the proper steps, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke and damage vital organs leading to death.

Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat-related injury. Also known as sunstroke, it can strike even with no previous heat injury. The definition, according to WebMD, is a core body temperature of 105 degrees or higher with nervous system complication stemming from exposure to high temperatures.

Symptoms include:

  • A core body temperature of 105 degrees or greater
  • Fainting
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Lack of sweating despite heat
  • Red, hot and/or dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be strong or weak
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, staggering
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Treatment for heat exhaustion includes drinking plenty of fluids (excluding caffeine and alcohol), removing any tight or unnecessary clothing, taking a cool shower or bath and applying other cooling methods like towels or fans.

If you suspect someone has heat stroke, immediately call 9-1-1 or transport that person to the hospital. Delays in seeking medical help can be fatal.