With recent bouts of extreme heat affecting large parts of the nation – and more likely up ahead - heat stroke, when the body’s natural cooling system fails, has gained considerable attention as a risk for outdoor workers. Symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, hot, red skin due to the inability to sweat and internal temperatures rising to dangerous levels.

While heat stroke is the most dangerous heat-related illness, it is not the only one that people who spend time out of doors in hot weather should be aware of. The following could signify other health problems:

Symptoms: Tiny, irritating bumps on the skin, surrounded by red skin could be heat rash. This occurs when sweat is unable to properly evaporate from the skin on parts of the body that are normally clothed.

Could indicate: Heat rash

Treatment: Cool and dry the affected areas.

Symptoms: Painful muscle spasms or cramps, most commonly in the calves, shoulders or thighs,
groin, and armpit.

Could indicate:  Heat cramp. This occurs when a fatigued muscle loses electrolytes, such as salt and potassium, through natural sweating, resulting in a chemical imbalance in the muscle.

Treatment: Restore fluids and electrolytes allow muscles to rest.

Symptoms: Rapid heartbeat, pale skin, confusion and irritability, or a throbbing

Could be: Heat exhaustion. This occurs when the body becomes dangerously dehydrated and produces excess sweat in an effort to cool itself.

Treatment: Immediate treatment of heat exhaustion is necessary in order to prevent the most dangerous heat-related illness, heat stroke.

Source: The Kentucky Injury Prevention & Research Center