What You Need to Know About Heat Illnesses

Five Star Urgent Care's Advice for Heat Stroke and More

When it comes to dealing with summer heat, many think that sunscreen and water is their ultimate defense when it comes to staying safe. However, there is much more to be wary of when fighting the heat. Heat illness is more than just sunburn and sweating, there's a spectrum of illness that can affect anyone ranging in age and ability. There are two different types of heat illness for two different types of patients, exertional and non-exertional. Dr. LouAnne Giangreco breaks down the differences and how to handle each.

Exertional heat illness tends to affect younger people and people that are more active because they are out in those hot temperatures. Examples of those affected might be students athletes, military trainees, outdoor employees,etc. Non-exertional heat illnesses pertain more to those who are at age extremes, whether young or old, and may not be able to remove themselves from the heat. Those with chronic medical conditions and those who have a medical condition where they might not be able to regulate their body temperature also are very susceptible to non-exertional heat illness.

There are generally about three different illnesses you can expect to get from the heat. The three being heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. They all slightly similar but still different.


Heat cramps are muscle pain and spasms that occur with strenuous activity. To treat these, you need to remove yourself from the heat and stop the activity you are participating in, rehydrate with water or a sports drink and allow several hours of rest for the body to heal itself. You should only return to activity once completely back to normal.


Heat exhaustion symptoms can include heavy sweating, paleness, cramps, fatigue, weakness and even dizziness. To treat exhaustion, you need to stop the activity you are participating in, rehydrate, move into air conditioning or a cooler room, or even take a cool shower or bath.


Heat Stroke is a medical emergency that includes a body temperature at or above 104 degrees, confusion, fainting, vomiting, dizziness, cramping and more. 911 should be called if and/or when this does occur but, if while you are waiting for EMS to come, there are things you can do to help. First, try to cool the person down by moving them into the shade or air conditioning. You can use cold compresses such as cold packs or towels, and could even put them in a cool tub of water.  

When the heat and humidity is high, some things you can do to prevent heat illness include:

  • go into your activities at a slower pace than normal

  • stay extremely hydrated

  • if you can do the activity inside, aim to do so

  • wear appropriate clothing

  • Try to exercise in the morning when temperatures are lower

  • Avoid drinking excessive amounts of soda and alcohol that will not help hydrate you

If you’re worried about heat illness, Five Star Urgent Care has five different facilities. They are located in Elmira, Fayetteville, Ithaca, Jamestown, and Syracuse. You can also visit their website, fivestaruc.com.

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