Heat-Related Illnesses - Home Treatment
Emergency first aid
Emergency first aid for
heatstroke is needed immediately because this
condition is life-threatening. After calling
911 or other emergency medical services,
follow these first aid steps:
- Move the person into a cool place, out of
- Remove the person's unnecessary clothing and place
the person on his or her side to expose as much skin surface to the air as
- Cool the person's entire body by sponging or spraying
cool (not cold) water, and fan the person to lower the person's body
temperature. Watch for signs of
rapidly progressing heatstroke, such as seizure, unconsciousness for longer than a few seconds, and moderate to severe difficulty breathing.
- Apply ice
packs on the groin, neck, and armpits, where large blood vessels lie close to
the skin surface. Do not immerse the person in an ice
- Check the person's rectal temperature, and try to cool
it to 102 °F (39 °C) or lower as
soon as possible. The longer the body is at a high temperature, the more
serious the illness and the more likely it is that complications will develop.
Temperatures taken by mouth or in the ear are not
accurate in this emergency situation.
- If a person has
stopped breathing, begin
- Do not give any medicine to reduce a high body temperature that can
occur with heatstroke. Medicines may cause problems because of the body's
response to heatstroke.
- If the person is awake and
alert enough to swallow, give the person fluids [32 fl oz (1 L) to
64 fl oz (2 L) over 1 to 2
hours] for hydration. Most people with heatstroke have an altered level of
consciousness and cannot safely be given fluids to drink. You may have to help.
Make sure the person is sitting up enough so that he or she does not choke.
Home treatment for mild heat-related illness
recognized in the early stages, most heat-related illnesses, such as mild
heat exhaustion, can be treated at home.
- Stop your activity, and rest.
out of direct sunlight and lie down in a cooler environment, such as shade or
an air-conditioned area. Elevate your feet. Remove all unnecessary
- Cool down by applying cool compresses or having a fan
blow on you. Place
ice bags under your arms and in your groin area, where large blood vessels
lie close to the skin surface, to cool down quickly.
rehydration drinks, juices, or water to replace
2 qt (2 L) of cool fluids over
2 to 4 hours. You are drinking enough fluids if your urine is normal in color
and amount and you are urinating every 2 to 4 hours. Total rehydration with
oral fluids usually takes about 36 hours, but most people will begin to feel
better within a few hours.
- Rest for 24 hours,
and continue fluid replacement with a rehydration drink. Rest from any
strenuous physical activity for 1 to 3 days.