Heat illness is a spectrum of disorders due to environmental exposure to heat. It includes minor conditions such as heat cramps, heat syncope, and heat exhaustion as well as the more severe condition known as heat stroke.
- Heat stroke - Defined by a body temperature of greater than 40 °C (104 °F) due to environmental heat exposure with lack of thermoregulation. Symptoms include dry skin, rapid, strong pulse and dizziness.
- Heat exhaustion - Can be a precursor of heatstroke; the symptoms include heavy sweating, rapid breathing and a fast, weak pulse.
- Heat syncope - Fainting or dizziness as a result of overheating.
- Heat edema
- Heat cramps - Muscle pains that happen during heavy exercise in hot weather.
- Heat rash - Skin irritation from excessive sweating.
- Heat tetany - Usually results from short periods of stress in intense heat. Symptoms may include hyperventilation, respiratory problems, numbness or tingling, or muscle spasms.
Prevention includes avoiding medications that can increase the risk of heat illness (e.g. antihypertensives, diuretics, and anticholinergics), gradual adjustment to heat, and sufficient fluids and electrolytes.
Mild disease can be treated with fluids by mouth. In more significant disease spraying with mist and using a fan is useful. For those with severe disease putting them in lukewarm water is recommended if possible with transport to a hospital.
Between 1999 and 2003, the US had a total of 3442 deaths from heat illness. Those who work outdoors are at particular risk for heat illness, though those who work in poorly-cooled spaces indoors are also at risk. Between 1992 and 2006, 423 workers died from heat illness in the US.
Heat illness used to be blamed on a tropical fever named calenture.
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