Because many people mix up heat stress, heat stroke, and dehydration, we’ve put together a visual guide to help you understand how these illnesses can affect the body. This information is especially important for parents, athletes, and seniors, all of whom face different risks from the heat. To stay safe this summer, keep reading to learn more
Heat stress is caused when the body is so hot it can no longer regulate its own temperature. Generally speaking, it is usually caused by one of the following three factors:
- Being outside in temperatures higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit
- Prolonged sun exposure
- High levels of humidity
Heat stress isn’t anything to brush off. More and more people are suffering from heat stress every summer, and back in 2014, there were more than 13,000 emergency department visits from heat stress nationwide.
What Is the Difference Between Heat stroke and Heat Stress?
Heat stroke and heat stress are related illnesses, but they aren’t the same. Heat stroke is the most serious ailment caused by heat stress, and it happens when a person’s internal temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It is more common than one might think, and the populations most at risk of heat stroke include:
- Adults over 65-years-old
- Those who do extensive physical activity outside, especially athletes, construction workers, and laborers. In fact, exercise-induced heat stroke is one of the top three leading causes of sudden death during sports activities.
- Children are perhaps the most vulnerable to heat stroke considering that about 700 children died from vehicular heat stroke between 1998 and 2016. Sadly, over half of those children had not even reached their second birthday.
A full 9,000 Americans have died from heat-related causes since 1979, and this is due in part to the fact that they were not staying hydrated. Drinking water is one of the best ways to keep heat stress and heat stroke at bay, and considering that our bodies are about 60% to 78% water, we need cool water to help regulate our internal body temperature.
So with these facts in mind, stay out of the sun and drink a cool glass of water while in the shade!