Heat Exhaustion VS Sunstroke: The Facts

August 10, 2019

Heat exhaustion is often mistaken for sunstroke.

While working in the sun all summer long, exposure to the elements can be both wonderful and dangerous. Sunshine is a great source of Vitamin D and studies have shown that working outside in the fresh air is great for your health. However, exposure to heat can lead to serious health problems. Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke come from too much sun exposure and high temperatures. They can happen very quickly or over several days. While they are similar and related, they are not the same thing. 

Not only are laborers out in the sun all day long but the hard work they do can contribute to overheating the body. In construction, sitting in a cab all day operating heavy equipment can make the temperature feel hotter than normal. Be aware of your working conditions, know the signs and take steps to keep yourself safe. In 2017, heat was the third leading cause of weather-related deaths in the US, following flash floods and tropical storms. 

Heat Exhaustion

Heat Exhaustion is not as serious as heat stroke (AKA sunstroke) but can turn into heat stroke if not taken seriously. If you recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion in yourself or anyone around you, immediate action is required. Rest in shade and hydration is important. 

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

  • Cold, slammy skin

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Excessive sweating

  • Rapid, weak pulse

  • Muscle cramping

  • Weakness

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness and fainting

All of these symptoms can be incredibly dangerous in the construction industry and labour environment. If you or someone around you appears to have heat exhaustion, try to reverse the condition by moving to a cooler environment, resting, staying hydrated, and changing into cooler clothes. If symptoms do not improve within one hour, or they appear to get worse, seek immediate medical care. If not treated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke. 

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke, also called sunstroke can be life-threatening and symptoms can rapidly worsen. Heat stroke can have lasting effects and cause damage to the body’s systems. It is the most serious heat-related illness and should be treated as a life-threatening medical emergency. 

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • Temperature of 104F or higher

  • Hot, dry skin

  • Racing heartbeat

  • Confusion

  • Agitation

  • Slurred speech

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Seizures

  • Coma

If left untreated, heat stroke can damage the brain and nervous system, circulatory system, lungs, kidneys, muscles, live, and digestive tract. If you or someone around you is experiencing signs of heatstroke get them medical attention immediately. 

Knowing the signs can help save a life but so can taking precautions to keep yourself from risk of these medical illnesses.


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1 Comment

  1. blog

    Everything is very open with a clear description of the issues.
    It was truly informative. Your website is useful.
    Thanks for sharing!


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