Heat illness includes a range of symptoms, usually starting with mild dehydration and quickly progressing to heat exhaustion and possibly to heat stroke, Yard said. Heat stroke is rarer, but can be potentially fatal.
Signs of possible heat illness include heavy sweating, feeling weak, headache, nausea or vomiting. These are signs of heat exhaustion, Yard said.
"That's a sign that you need to get these people immediately out of the heat and into air conditioning or an ice bath," she said. "That's why it is important to have an exercise partner or teammates or coaches who can recognize the signs of heat illness and get you the prompt attention that it needs," she added.
If a person starts to show signs of mental confusion it could be heat stroke, Yard noted. "That's a medical emergency that needs immediate emergency attention," she said.
According to Dr. Lisandro Irizarry, chair of the emergency department at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City, the most common heat-related illness sending people to the emergency room is heat exhaustion.
"It's rare to see someone in heat stroke," Irizarry said. "Usually the person you see who has heat stroke is an elderly person on multiple medications that restrict the person's ability to sweat," he explained.
However, there are times when heat illness should be treated in an emergency room, he added. "If you are significantly confused you should go to the emergency department," he said.
"In addition, if you have symptoms of another illness you have, like heart disease with chest pain or shortness of breath, that's another reason to go to the hospital," Irizarry continued. Also, feeling faint is another reason to go to the hospital, he said.
For most people who are active outside during heat waves, Irizarry recommends limiting the time spent exercisi
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