Heat stroke or heat exhaustion: Do you know the difference?

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Do you know what the best defense against heat-related illness is? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's all about making simple changes to your fluid intake, activities and clothing.

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The CDC notes that though heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, many people still succumb to extreme heat every year. The agency says extreme heat caused 7,415 heat-related deaths in the U.S. from 1999 to 2010. And according to the National Weather Service, extreme heat kills more people than hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and lightning combined.
So what's the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke? The CDC says heat exhaustion is the precursor to heat stroke and happens when the body is unable to regulate its temperature.

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms/Warning Signs:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

If you think you have heat exhaustion, the CDC recommends you move to a cooler location, lie down and loosen your clothing, apply cool and wet cloths to as much of your body as possible and sip water. If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.

Heat Stroke Symptoms/Warning Signs:

  • High body temperature (above 103F)*
  • Hot, red, dry or moist skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Possible unconsciousness

If you think you have heat stroke, the CDC recommends you call 911 immediately because it's a medical emergency, move the person to a cooler environment, reduce the person's body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath, and do not give them fluids.

Click here for more tips from the CDC on how to deal with extreme heat.

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