Heat exhaustion, heat stroke differences


Despite the triple-digit heat, residents at Silverado Senior Living in Azusa want to get outside for a bit. But caregivers are keeping a close eye on them because the signs of dehydration in seniors can be subtle.

"Their response to acute situations can be less dramatic and that's why we have to be more attentive, pay more attention," said Anne Ellett with Silverado Senior Living.

Conditions like diabetes and heart disease make the elderly more vulnerable to heat. Ellett says seniors also have a delayed thirst response.

"You or I might be seeking out that glass of water. They may not even realize they are getting low on fluids," she said.

Dr. Alan Nager, director of emergency medicine at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, says heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very different conditions.

While parents need to stay on top of young kids, Nager says 15-to 18-year-olds often sabotage themselves.

"Adolescents take chances. They ignore drinking, they ignore appropriate clothing, and so really that group of individuals needs special encouragement and education and the rules need to be enforced," said Nager.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion:
- Being pale with cool, moist skin
- Profuse sweating
- Muscle cramps or pains
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Having a headache, weakness, thirst or nausea

Heat stroke symptoms:
- Being unconscious
- Feeling dizzy, confused or having hallucinations
- Being flushed, hot and having dry skin
- Blood pressure may be high or low
- Hyperventilation

Nager says prevention is most important because once you get heat stroke, care can be tricky.

"It's a fine balance between getting that temperature to come down but not having it come down so fast or so far down that it causes more problems," Nager said.

Prevention is key. Remember to wear light, loose clothing, stay in the shade, don't over-exert yourself and reapply sunscreen every hour, because sweat and sunburn is a dangerous combination.

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