Heat stroke occurs when the body gets too hot, usually due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures. When the heat of your body’s core rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, your body can’t cool itself down effectively and your organs will begin to shut down one by one if the temperature keeps rising. Heat stroke can lead to death in just minutes, so it’s critical that you know how long heat stroke recovery time lasts and what you can do to help speed up the process.
Stages of Heat Exhaustion
Like other forms of heat illness, heat exhaustion is caused by a combination of high temperatures and inadequate fluid intake. However, unlike milder heat-related conditions, heat exhaustion can quickly progress into serious problems. The condition can affect anyone exposed to high temperatures who isn’t adequately hydrated, but it’s particularly dangerous for those with heart disease or diabetes. Here are some signs that you might be suffering from heat exhaustion
Stage 1: Vomiting
When heat stroke strikes, your body will first try to cool itself off by sweating. If you’re an active person, you may not notice its effects until you stop exercising—by which point dehydration has already set in and vomiting can occur. This is why it’s important to stay hydrated during a marathon or triathlon.
Stage 2: Weakness/Nausea
If you’re suffering from heat stroke, your body will have a high fever and your blood pressure will likely be very low. You may have pale skin that is cool to touch and experience nausea. The kidneys become increasingly inflamed, which can be fatal. If you survive past stage 2 without immediate medical attention, you will enter into stage 3 of heat stroke.
Stage 3: Restlessness, Dizziness
This stage is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, feeling of faintness and cold skin. At this point, heat stroke is a true medical emergency requiring immediate medical attention. You will be given fluids intravenously. You’ll also be placed on a ventilator to keep you breathing and put into an induced coma for 24 hours while your body rests and cools down. After 48 hours, you will likely be taken off of life support but monitored closely in intensive care until you’re back on your feet.
Stage 4: High Fever, Fast Heart Rate, Seizures, Agitation
Your dog is in heat stroke stage 4 when high fever, rapid heart rate, seizures and agitation set in. Stage 4 is an emergency; seek immediate veterinary care for your pet!
Stage 5: Dry Skin, Rapid Breathing, Unconsciousness
The body’s core temperature is well above 104°F, and heat stroke (also known as sunstroke) is at its most serious stage. If a person suffering from heat stroke isn’t treated quickly, he or she could go into shock, their kidneys could fail, and they could die.
Delirium from Lack of Fluids in the Brain
The lack of fluids in your brain due to heat stroke can cause you to become delusional and lose consciousness, which is why people suffering from heat stroke may seem like they’re drunk. It may take up to two weeks for you body temperature and all other symptoms associated with heat stroke (such as dehydration) to recover. Most patients can go home from the hospital one or two days after recovering from a mild case of heat stroke. Severe cases of heat stroke may require inpatient care in an intensive care unit.
Once Conscious but Still Confused; Continued Symptoms for Days or Weeks
Heat stroke occurs when your body’s internal thermostat goes out of whack and tries to overcompensate by raising your body temperature. When that happens, you can experience confusion, dizziness, weakness, nausea and fainting. But don’t worry: Most people make a full recovery from heat stroke within one or two days.
Most Common Causes & Risk Factors
Heat stroke occurs when your body’s thermoregulation system fails and your core temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s possible for heat stroke to occur without dehydration or exertion, but it’s much more likely that a combination of both dehydration and physical activity are present.
Treatment of Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion usually clears up on its own with rest, adequate hydration and occasional doses of salt. In severe cases, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which is a serious medical emergency. Individuals should seek treatment at a hospital if their symptoms do not improve after two hours of home treatment or if they experience a loss of consciousness. Doctors may also prescribe cool baths or showers in order to lower body temperature and rehydrate patients suffering from heat stroke.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Heatstroke
What is heatstroke? Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is a condition caused by your body overheating. If left untreated, you could die within hours of exposure. Warning signs and symptoms of heatstroke include: Nausea or vomiting ; headache; fatigue; dizziness; confusion; lack of sweating despite high temperatures; rapid breathing and heart rate (tachycardia); red skin that feels hot to touch (flushed face). Treatment for heatstroke requires immediate action. Call 911 if you suspect someone has suffered from heatstroke, then follow these steps: Move them into a cool area immediately. Remove their clothing and put them in cold water or wrap them in wet sheets/blankets. Monitor their temperature until help arrives. Never give fluids to someone who has experienced heat stroke—they may have an electrolyte imbalance due to dehydration that can be fatal if corrected with an IV too quickly.