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Child sweating in the heat with a bottle of water

Avoid Heat-Related Illnesses with these Tips

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Lisa Bunting
Published Date: Monday, July 2, 2018

By: Dr. Lisa Bunting, Chesapeake Pediatrics

We don’t want to discourage our children from spending time outdoors during the summer, but we do want to protect them from serious heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. A heat index of 90 degrees or higher, especially with high humidity, can pose serious health risks, especially for children and the elderly.

What’s the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

Heat exhaustion occurs when your body temperature increases and you’re not able to cool yourself down quickly enough. Dehydration from sweating and not staying well hydrated can contribute to the risk of heat exhaustion.

If not treated, heat exhaustion can quickly progress to heat stroke – a life-threatening form of heat illness that can be fatal.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion include:

  • Increased thirst.
  • Dizziness or fainting.
  • Heavy sweating.
  • Headache.
  • Irritability.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Cold, pale, clammy skin.

If your child is showing signs of heat exhaustion, take them to a cool place to rest, give them sips of water, and loosen or remove excess clothing. Using a fan or placing a cold damp cloth on the skin can also help.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke include:

  • Severe headache.
  • No longer sweating.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Rapid breathing or heartbeat.
  • Confusion
  • Weakness and/or dizziness.
  • Flushed, hot, dry skin.
  • Body temperature of 103 degrees or higher.

If your child is showing symptoms of heat stroke, seek emergency medical help immediately. As you wait for help to arrive, bring your child to a cool place. You can help lower your child’s temperature with cool, wet cloths or a cool bath. Do not give your child anything to drink.

To Prevent Heat-Related Illnesses:

  • Teach your child to drink plenty of fluids before and during any activity in the heat – even if they’re not thirsty.
  • Make sure your child wears light-colored, loose clothing when playing in the heat. And don’t forget the sunscreen.
  • Limit outdoor activity in the hot, humid weather.
  • Encourage your child to take indoor breaks when playing in the heat.

How do you and your family beat the heat? Let us know in the comment section below.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.