Heat Stress v Heat Stroke. What is the Difference?

Time in the sun can be relaxing and enjoyable, but a little too much can cause serious health implications such as heat exhaustion and heat stress. Both terms are used to describe heat related illness, but what is the difference?

Heat Stress

Heat stress occurs when the body is not able to remove enough excess heat to maintain the optimum core body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. This is most likely to occur in high heat environments or in scenarios where high levels of personal protective equipment must be worn. Symptoms of heat stress include:

  • Increased sweating, respiratory and heart rate;

  • Heat rash – a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating;

  • Heat cramps – pain or spams in muscles, due to the depletion of water and electrolytes from the body;

  • Dizziness or fainting – occurs when blood pressure drops due to extreme vasodilation and blood pooling in the legs

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke occurs when heat stress is left untreated and the body temperature rises above 40.5 degrees Celsius. This is classified as a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of heatstroke are:

  • Paleness;

  • Headaches;

  • Unconsciousness;

  • Nausea or vomiting

Prevent Heat Stress & Heat Stroke

Staying Hydrated

Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, more when the weather is warm. Consume an electrolyte supplement such as Sqwincher to maintain optimal hydration, approximately one serve per two serves of water.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

If possible, wear lightweight, light colour, loose fitting clothing to allow airflow while still providing sun protection.

Protect Your Skin

Ensure you are wearing a high protection, broad spectrum sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.

Limit Physical Activity During the Middle of the Day

Noon is generally the warmest part of the day. Ensure that you schedule any outdoor activity during the cooler parts of the day.

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