Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

Symptoms of heat stroke or sun stroke

Heat stroke or sun stroke is a form of hyperthermia, characterized by an abnormally elevated body temperature and related symptoms that are considered a true medical emergency. People most at risk for heat stroke are infants, the elderly, outdoor workers, and athletes, particularly in the summer when the temperature is high.

Woman sweating

Heat stroke occurs when the body cannot adequately dissipate heat through evaporation of sweat or radiation of heat from the skin, typically caused by extreme heat, high humidity, vigorous exertion under the sun, or dehydration. Heat exhaustion, a milder form of hyperthermia, may occur initially and progress to heat stroke if not properly treated.


High body temperature
Absence of sweating
Hot, red, flushed skin
Rapid pulse
Difficulty breathing
Strange behavior




Because heat stroke can cause permanent organ damage and even death, immediate treatment is imperative. If you suspect a child or adult is experiencing heat stroke, quickly call 911 then take measures to cool the victim. Move victim out of the sun, remove clothing, fan the victim, lightly spray with cool water, and place ice packs under the arm pits. The 911 operator can assist you with further instructions as emergency personnel are in route.



To avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke, limit outdoor activities when the temperature and humidity are high. Opt to play or exercise outdoors before 10am or in the early evening, when the temperature is cooler. Another key preventative factor is to stay hydrated. Drink at least 8 (8-ounce) glasses of water daily and keep your intake of caffeine and alcohol to a minimum.


Leave a Comment