Heat exhaustion vs. heat stroke: The symptoms to look out for

The heat is on in South Texas - here are the signs to distinguish heat stroke from heat exhaustion to determine if it’s a medical emergency

Knowing the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke can keep yourself and those around you safe. (2023 KSAT)

Distinguishing between heat exhaustion and heat stroke can mean the difference between resting in a cool area or seeking medical attention.

Heat exhaustion

Symptoms include:

  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Sweating excessively
  • Skin looks pale, feels cool and clammy
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Muscle cramps

If you notice these symptoms for yourself or someone nearby, get to an air-conditioned area. Drink water and eat a salty snack to retain the hydration. You can also help cool yourself down with a cool shower or cold compresses.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke occurs when the body can no longer cool itself down. Symptoms include:

  • No sweating
  • Throbbing headache
  • Red, hot, dry skin
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Strong, rapid pulse
  • Losing conscious

Call 911 immediately as a delay could be fatal. While waiting for medical help to arrive, it’s best to remove unnecessary clothing items and apply cool compresses.

Anytime you’re outdoors this summer, remember to always have water and sunscreen handy. A few quick preventative measures can help keep yourself, family, friends and pets safe as we endure another Texas summer.

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About the Author:

Leah Mata-Rodriguez is an intern with the KSAT Weather Authority team. She is a rising senior at Texas A&M University majoring in Meteorology. Originally from Pearsall, Leah grew up watching KSAT 12 before and after school. She always looks forward to eating food from Mexican restaurants and bakeries around San Antonio and her hometown.