“Heat related illness can span a spectrum of different kind of diseases”, says Dr. Cam Mosley with Washington Regional’s Emergency Department. The spectrum can range from heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and in severe cases, heat stroke.

“So, there’s a couple of different kinds of heat stroke as far as we see in the emergency department. The one that everyone’s heard of is kind of the classic the athlete training for football in the summer gets overheated and collapses.”

Another thing Dr. Mosley sees in kids is that they don’t want to come inside from the heat. “They want to continue to play. And when they do that, they can get dehydrated and it can turn into kind of a vicious cycle that can rapidly lead to heat stroke. There’s also a version of heat stroke that happens in the elderly folks who are exposed to kind of mild heat and they can’t take care of themselves for numerous reasons. They can quickly turn into a heat stroke.”

Dr. Mosley states that the main thing people will see with heat stroke, that differentiates it from other variations of heat illness, is altered mental status, seizures, and confusion. “So, you want to just always be observant for anyone you’re around in the heat. Are they starting to become short of breath or tired? Do they feel like they’re going to pass out or have they been vomiting? You know, if they look bad, take them inside and get them in the cool air. If you’re at a job site, get them in your car. Turn on the air conditioner. You know, start hydrating them appropriately with water or even some of the sports drinks or good hydration techniques.”