First Aid: Heat Stroke

Dr. Fraser in a lab coat

Author: Dr. Jon Fraser

Heat stroke is caused by your body overheating. It usually is a result of prolonged exposure to hot temperatures. Heat stroke can occur if your body temperature rises to 104° F or higher. It is very common in the summer.


  • Exposure to a hot environment. Being in a hot environment leads to a rise in core body temperature. This typically occurs after exposure to hot, humid weather, especially for prolonged periods of time.
  • Strenuous activity can cause an increase in core body temperature in hot weather. This is most likely to occur if you’re not used to hot temperatures.
  • Wearing extra or excessive clothing prevents sweat from evaporating easily and cooling your body.
  • Drinking alcohol can affect your body’s ability to regulate your temperature
  • Becoming dehydrated is a result of not drinking enough water to replenish fluids lost through sweating.


  • High body temperature
  • Altered mental state or behavior
  • Alteration in sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Racing heart rate
  • Headache


  • Wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing so it allows your body to cool properly.
  • Protect against sunburn by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself down.
  • Drink plenty of water to help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.
  • Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day. Drink fluids and rest frequently in a cool spot.

If you think a person may be experiencing heat stroke, seek immediate medical help or Call 911.

Take immediate action while waiting for emergency treatment:

  • Get the person into shade or indoors.
  • Remove excess clothing.
  • Cool with whatever means available:
  • Cool tub of water or a cool shower
  • Fan while misting with water
  • Use ice packs
  • Place wet towels on the person’s head, neck, armpits and groin

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.

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