Hot weather dangers: Heatstroke vs. heat exhaustion

Posted: Updated:
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

As the mercury rises, people need to make sure they are watching for heat-related illnesses, especially when the forecast calls for 115-120 degrees.

Let start with the basics.

What is heatstroke?

Heatstroke, or sunstroke, is the most serious form of heat injury and is considered a medical emergency. Heatstroke is the result of prolonged exposure to hot temperatures and usually combined with dehydration. This leads to the body not being able to regulate its internal temperature.

Signs of Heat Stroke include:

  • Throbbing headache, dizziness and light-headedness, lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, and dry skin, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak; rapid, shallow breathing
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering, seizures, unconsciousness

Heat stroke can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. If you see someone experiencing heat stroke, call 911 immediately.

What is heat exhaustion?

Again, this is a heat illness that occurs after you have had long periods of time out in the heat and usually are dehydrated. There are two types of heat exhaustion:

-Water depletion
Signs include excessive thirst, weakness, headache, and loss of consciousness

-Salt depletion
Signs include nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness.

Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Confusion, dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration), dizziness
  • Fainting, fatigue, headache, muscle or abdominal cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, pale skin, profuse sweating, rapid heartbeat

If you feel you are experiencing heat exhaustion get out of the heat immediately and inside to an air conditioned area, start drinking water, remove tight-fitting clothing and take a cool shower or bath. If you have any concerns or if your condition doesn’t improve after a few minutes, call 911 immediately.

Other heat related illnesses include:

Heat rash -occurs when the sweat ducts to the skin become blocked or swell, causing discomfort and itching.

Heat cramps- which occur in muscles after exercise because sweating causes the body to lose water, salt, and minerals aka -electrolytes.

Heat edema – swelling in the legs and hands, which can occur when you sit or stand for a long time in a hot environment.

Heat tetany - (hyperventilation and heat stress), is usually caused by short periods of stress in a hot environment.

Heat syncope - or fainting, which occurs from low blood pressure when heat causes the blood vessels to expand and body fluids move into the legs because of gravity.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Weather blog]

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


  • Weather BlogMore>>

  • Twisters in Arizona?!

    Twisters in Arizona?!

    Wednesday, October 18 2017 7:54 AM EDT2017-10-18 11:54:28 GMT

    October has been off to a unseasonably warm and quiet start this year.  Most years, it’s a pretty uneventful month when it comes to stormy weather in our state.  October 2010 was a big exception, when we saw the worst tornado outbreak in state history.   

    More >

    October has been off to a unseasonably warm and quiet start this year.  Most years, it’s a pretty uneventful month when it comes to stormy weather in our state.  October 2010 was a big exception, when we saw the worst tornado outbreak in state history.   

    More >
  • Hurricane Ophelia is a record setter

    Hurricane Ophelia is a record setter

    Tuesday, October 17 2017 8:48 PM EDT2017-10-18 00:48:11 GMT
    Damage from Ophelia in Cork, Ireland (AP)Damage from Ophelia in Cork, Ireland (AP)

    Hurricane Ophelia is not a hurricane anymore, but winds are still pelting the British Isles. The impacts of this storm have been widespread.

    More >

    Hurricane Ophelia is not a hurricane anymore, but winds are still pelting the British Isles. The impacts of this storm have been widespread.

    More >
  • GONE FISHIN': Best AZ spots to reel in a catch during the fall

    GONE FISHIN': Best AZ spots to reel in a catch during the fall

    Monday, October 16 2017 12:55 PM EDT2017-10-16 16:55:48 GMT
    (Source: 3TV/ CBS 5)(Source: 3TV/ CBS 5)

    As the saying goes, a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office. Now that temperatures are cooling down and fish are becoming more active, where are the best lakes to catch them?

    More >

    As the saying goes, a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office. Now that temperatures are cooling down and fish are becoming more active, where are the best lakes to catch them?

    More >
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Woman claims she found bedbugs in a Glendale movie theater

    Woman claims she found bedbugs in a Glendale movie theater

    Thursday, October 19 2017 3:05 AM EDT2017-10-19 07:05:16 GMT
    (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    It's almost Halloween, a scary movie might help get you in the mood. But it wasn't the movie that made one Valley woman's skin crawl. 

    More >

    It's almost Halloween, a scary movie might help get you in the mood. But it wasn't the movie that made one Valley woman's skin crawl. 

    More >
  • PD: Woman who hit, killed motorcyclist in Scottsdale had BAC of .355

    PD: Woman who hit, killed motorcyclist in Scottsdale had BAC of .355

    Thursday, October 19 2017 1:28 PM EDT2017-10-19 17:28:08 GMT
    Investigators said Tracy Shelden Morehouse had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.355 percent when she hit Greg Dolphin, who was stopped at the red light on Scottsdale Road at Princess Drive. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 and Scottsdale Police Dept.)Investigators said Tracy Shelden Morehouse had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.355 percent when she hit Greg Dolphin, who was stopped at the red light on Scottsdale Road at Princess Drive. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 and Scottsdale Police Dept.)

    Investigators said Tracy Shelden Morehouse had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.355 percent when she hit Greg Dolphin, who was stopped at the red light on Scottsdale Road at Princess Drive on Aug. 13.

    More >

    Investigators said Tracy Shelden Morehouse had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.355 percent when she hit Greg Dolphin, who was stopped at the red light on Scottsdale Road at Princess Drive on Aug. 13.

    More >
  • ASU student carjacked by Malzahn describes encounter as 'horrific'

    ASU student carjacked by Malzahn describes encounter as 'horrific'

    Thursday, October 19 2017 7:49 AM EDT2017-10-19 11:49:53 GMT
    Shannon McCrea, a 20-year-old college student said Charlie Malzahn, the main suspect in the disappearance and murder of Cathryn Gorospe, threatened to her hurt and then stole her car the night of Oct. 8, one day prior to his arrest. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)Shannon McCrea, a 20-year-old college student said Charlie Malzahn, the main suspect in the disappearance and murder of Cathryn Gorospe, threatened to her hurt and then stole her car the night of Oct. 8, one day prior to his arrest. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    A 20-year-old college student said Charlie Malzahn, the main suspect in the disappearance and murder of Cathryn Gorospe, threatened to hurt her and then stole her car the night of Oct. 8, one day prior to his arrest.

    More >

    A 20-year-old college student said Charlie Malzahn, the main suspect in the disappearance and murder of Cathryn Gorospe, threatened to hurt her and then stole her car the night of Oct. 8, one day prior to his arrest.

    More >