Experts warn of signs of summer health condition amid soaring temperatures

Person suffering from heatstroke
-Credit: (Image: GETTY)

As the NHS struggles under the pressure of the hottest week of the year combined with staff strikes, Brits learning the early warning signs and treatments for heat exhaustion and heat stroke can help lessen the burden and keep them safe in the sun. Heat exhaustion is one of the first steps on the way to heat stroke and occurs when the body loses an excess amount of water and salt, typically due to sweating in sweltering temperatures.

These are the main signs of heat exhaustion but other early indicators include, according to the NHS:

  • Tiredness

  • Dizziness

  • Headache

  • Feeling or being sick

  • Skin becoming pale and clammy or a heat rash appearing

  • Cramps in the arms, legs and stomach

  • Fast breathing or heartbeat

  • Extreme thirst

  • Weakness

The symptoms of heat exhaustion in children are generally the same as in adults but youngsters may also be irritable as their health declines and their body temperature becomes more uncomfortable. Heat exhaustion can be treated in a few simple ways with the aim of cooling the body down and replenishing lost fluids.

This includes moving the person to a cool area out of the sun, removing unnecessary clothing like socks, giving them water or a sports rehydration drink and cooling their skin, for example with cold packs wrapped in cloth and placed in the armpits or on the neck. The NHS notes companions should stay with the person until they start to feel better which should be within 30 minutes as their body cools down.

If heat exhaustion is not treated effectively it can turn into heat stroke as a person’s body temperature continues to rise, putting their health at risk if they don’t take steps to cool themselves down effectively. According to Mayo Clinic, heat stroke can be fatal without prompt and adequate treatment.

People who continue to have heat exhuastion symptoms 30 minutes after getting treatment may have developed heat stroke too. The NHS advises Brits call 999 if they experience the following symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Very high temperature

  • Hot skin that's not sweating and might look red

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Fast breathing or shortness of breath

  • Confusion and lack of coordination

  • Seizures or fits

  • Loss of consciousness

Heat stroke and exhaustion can be prevented by staying hydrated in warmer temperatures, particularly when exercising, wearing loose and light-coloured clothing and avoiding alcohol.