Discusses emergency first aid treatment for heatstroke (rising body temperature of 105°F or higher). Covers signs, including fainting and convulsion. Offers first aid steps when helping a person with heatstroke.
Emergency First Aid for Heatstroke
Heatstroke occurs when the body fails to regulate its own
temperature and body temperature continues to rise, often to
104 °F (40 °C) or higher. Signs
of rapidly progressing heatstroke include:
A rectal temperature over
104 °F (40 °C) after exposure to
a hot environment.
Confusion, severe restlessness, or
Fast heart rate.
Sweating that may be heavy or may have stopped.
that may be red, hot, and dry, even in the armpits.
Severe vomiting and diarrhea.
Heatstroke is a medical emergency. Even with immediate
treatment, it can be life-threatening or result in serious, long-term
complications. After calling 911 or other
emergency medical services, follow these first aid steps.
Move the person into a cool place, out of
Remove the person's unnecessary clothing, and
place the person on his or her side to expose as much skin surface to the air
Cool the person's entire body by sponging or spraying
cool—not cold—water, and fan the person to lower the body temperature. Watch
for signs of rapidly progressing heatstroke (below).
packs to the groin, neck, and armpits, where large blood vessels lie close to
the skin surface. Do not immerse the person in an ice
Check the person's rectal temperature and try to
reduce it to 102 °F (39 °C) or
lower as soon as possible. The longer the body is at a high temperature, the
more serious the illness and the more likely it is that complications will
develop. Temperatures taken by mouth or in the ear are not accurate in this
Do not give aspirin or acetaminophen to reduce a high body temperature that can
occur with heatstroke. These medicines may cause problems because of the body's
response to heatstroke.
If the person is awake and
alert enough to swallow, give the person fluids [32 fl oz (1 L) to
64 fl oz (2 L) over 1 to 2
hours] for hydration. Most people with heatstroke have an altered
level of consciousness and cannot safely be given
fluids to drink. You may have to help. Make sure the person is sitting up
enough so that he or she does not choke.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.