Heat Stroke: What Does It Look Like and How To Treat It
August 01, 2023 | Christian Schauf
Heat Stroke: What Does It Look Like and How To Treat It

There are very few equalizers like heat.  Heat can turn your daily 4 mile run into a death march, and your comfortable car into a death sentence for whoever’s inside.

Here’s a few points on how to identify heat stroke, how to prevent it, and how to treat it. 


The tell-tale signs:

  • Sudden Severe Headache - It may be a migraine or just your average headache.  But be aware of any sudden headache onset.   If you are spending time in the heat and high humidity, this could be a signal that our body is overheating fast.
  • Unexplained confusion or odd behavior - If someone suddenly shows signs of dizziness, confusion or agitation, or more specifically a loss of consciousness or disorientation, call 911. These are all beginning signs of a heat stroke.
  • Sudden rush of feeling cold and/or chills while sweating - When your body can’t regulate your temperature, it may send chills down your spine, literally. If you’re hot and sweating yet experiencing chills and feeling cold, seek emergency care and take steps to cool your body temp down. 
  • Alteration in sweating - The Mayo Clinic states, “In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in a heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel dry or slightly moist.” Pay attention to your skin and how you feel during strenuous activities while in a warm climate.
  • Racing heart rate, rapid breathing, nausea, and vomiting - You might feel your heart rate increase rapidly without doing any strenuous activity, and the culprit is heat stroke. You may begin to feel sick to your stomach or need to vomit. If you experience any of these signs, it’s your body telling you to cool down, stat.



If you, or someone around you, is experiencing the above symptoms, it’s important to act fast.  If you’re unsure, or feel it’s severe, call 911.  If it’s early stages, here are a few tips to bring your temp back down: 

  • Find shade
  • Apply a cool compress to areas where blood flow is near the skin: head, chest, neck, or back.  
  • If possible, spray with cool water or use a sponge to apply cool water.  Remember, water is a great conductor of heat and will transfer heat away from the body much quicker than moving air. 

A word of caution - DO NOT drink ice water as a first step.  Digesting ice cold water has been shown to constrict capillaries, cause stomach cramps, and decrease the absorption rate, making the situation worse. 



  • Avoid dark colors.
  • Wear clothing that breathes well. 
  • Avoid dehydration and make sure you drink often and early in hot environments. 
  • Make sure to take electrolytes if sweating extensively.
  • Avoid excess amounts of alcohol.