Health

Heat Exhaustion vs Heatstroke: A Doctor Explains The Difference

by Rachael Ray Show Staff 7:38 AM, June 5, 2018

Aired June 5, 2018

Don't forget to take care of yourself in that sweltering summer heat, friends!

And yes, as always, hydrating is a MUST.

"You should drink a lot of water, particularly in the summer," physician and bestselling author Dr. Ian Smith says. "Even if you're not sweating. You're losing water all the time in all different ways -- through your skin, urinating and through your hair."

"If you're in really hot environments," he continues, "OSHA recommends about 4 cups of water per hour."

RELATED: What's Swimmer's Ear and How Do You Get Rid of It?

After all, you want to avoid suffering from heat exhaustion -- or, worse -- heatstroke.

What's the difference, you ask?

Well, Dr. Ian broke it down for us -- with a car metaphor!

HEAT EXHAUSTION

Picture the temperature gauge in your car when it's running hot, the doctor suggests while explaining heat exhaustion.

"The car is still going to work, but it's getting hot," he says. "That is heat exhaustion. You're getting tired. Your system is breaking down."

RELATED: THIS Is How to Properly Remove a Tick (and what to do with it)

If that doesn't sound scary enough, heatstroke is even more severe.

HEATSTROKE

"Heatstroke is when your car says caput, I'm done," Dr. Ian explains.

"Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are on a continuum," he goes on. "We're trying to catch you at the heat exhaustion level."

RELATED: This Map Shows Where Lyme Disease Has Concentrated Over The Past Few Years

So, what symptoms should you look out for?

HEAT EXHAUSTION SYMPTOMS

- Headache, dizziness
- Cold, clammy skin, pale complexion
- Heavy sweating
- Nausea/vomiting

HEATSTROKE SYMPTOMS

- Throbbing headache, dizziness, confusion
- Hot, flushed, dry skin, with fever above 103 degrees
- Possible lack of sweating
- Nausea/vomiting

And if you suspect that you're experiencing either condition, the doc tells you exactly which steps to take.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU'RE SUFFERING FROM HEAT EXHAUSTION

- Move to a cool, air conditioned area
- Sip water
- Take a cold shower or use a cold compress
- Call a doctor after 30 minutes, or with vomiting

WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU'RE SUFFERING FROM HEATSTROKE

- Call 911 immediately
- While waiting for help, move to a cool, air conditioned area
- Sip water if able
- Use a cold compress
- Do NOT use a fan if over 90 degrees

"Do not try to be the doctor," Dr. Ian stresses. "If you don't know the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, go to the doctor, because it could be extremely severe."