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Heat cramps are usually considered mild, and can be treated with liquids and going into a cool environment. More severe is heat exhaustion, which involves elevation of body temperature, headaches, nausea and vomiting.
And then there is heatstroke, which is the most life-threatening. Heatstroke resembles heat exhaustion but may additionally involve neurological symptoms such as confusion and dizziness, or even coma. The body can no longer sweat, and internal temperature skyrockets.
In severe cases, patients must be admitted to the intensive care unit, where medical staff watch body temperature carefully. A 48-hour hospital stay would usually be necessary
Treatment focuses on cooling the patient down to a normal body temperature. If the patient has a clear airway, breathes normally and has normal circulation, medical staff will remove his or her clothes and spray cool water while a fan is blowing. Cool intravenous fluids also bring body temperature down.
To protect yourself, try to avoid strenuous physical activity outside during the hottest time of the day
People who must work outside should make sure they drink plenty of water every half-hour or so and take breaks in a cool environment if possible. Wearing lightweight, light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat can also help.
And make sure you check on the elderly, especially if they don't have air conditioning. They should spend time in cool places such as a library or a mall to get a break from the heat.