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  • Scripps Health

Eight tips to stay cool in the summer heat

Smart tips for keeping cool when the temperature rises outside

With temperatures climbing, and hot, sunny days upon us, it’s important to understand the dangers of summer heat waves and how to protect yourself and your family — especially children and older people — from heat-related illnesses and injuries.

“Normally, your body keeps itself cool by sweating. However, some factors may interfere with your natural cooling system, such as age, obesity, dehydration, heart disease and use of alcohol or drugs,” says Mohammed Shaker, MD, an internal medicine physician and geriatrician at Scripps Clinic Rancho Bernardo. “If your body temperature gets too high, you risk damage to your brain or vital organs.”

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion

Two of the most common heat-related problems are heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke results when your body cannot control its rising temperature.

You lose the ability to sweat as your temperature skyrockets, often to 106°F or higher. “Heat stroke can come on very suddenly, and without immediate medical treatment, heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability,” says Dr. Shaker.

Heat stroke symptoms

Heat stroke symptoms may include:

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Dizziness, nausea and confusion

  • Red, hot and dry skin without sweating

  • Rapid pulse

  • Throbbing headache

Heat exhaustion symptoms

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body sweats profusely, resulting in dangerous losses of water and salt. Older people, athletes and workers who are exposed to very hot weather are most at risk.

Heat exhaustion symptoms may include:

  • Heavy sweating

  • Muscle cramps

  • Weakness or dizziness