Spectrum of Heat-Stroke

In previous article you read about the ways of preventing heat stroke. Now here are certain points for you to differentiate between severity of the heat illnesses.

Firstly, to avoid unnecessary panic, one needs to know about the spectrum of this heat illness because not all its forms will lead to death.

The spectrum in increasing severity includes: Heat cramps, Heat syncope, Heat exhaustion, Heat stroke.

Heatwave, heat stroke, Karachi heat wave


  • Occurs during heavy muscular work in high temperature
  • Painful spasmodic cramps of skeletal muscle. This is a very frequent complain that you might yourself have experienced, but we never link it to dehydration and instead take painkillers for it.
  • Body temperature may be normal or slightly increased
  • Water or fruit juice and salt (preferably ORS) should be given by mouth.
  • In severe cases give saline through intravenous route.


  • Fainting, “black outs,” or syncope is the temporary loss of consciousness followed by the return to full wakefulness


  • Patient may present with extreme paleness and sweating
  • numbness and tingling of hands and feet
  • dizziness, nausea and possible disturbance of vision.


  • Leave the patient in lying down position and loosen tight clothing.
  • Do not give anything by mouth when the patient is unconscious.
  • If still unconscious, call a doctor.
  • If a known diabetic person is feeling faint and gives history of no oral intake since 6-8 hours, immediately check blood sugar levels and give him candy or glucose.


It is characterized by giddiness and fainting followed by prolonged exposure to high temperature, sudden changes in posture, or exercise in hot weather. It is due to circulatory instability.


  • Normal body temperature.
  • Pale and clammy skin.
  • Profuse sweating, tiredness, weakness
  • Headache, dizziness and possible fainting.


  • Give sips if salt and water (one teaspoonful of salt per glass)
  • Lay him down and raise his feet. (8”-12”)
  • Loosen tight clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet cloth.
  • Use fan or A.C.

Heatwave, heat stroke, Karachi heat wave

The symptoms of heat syncope and heat exhaustion may seem to overlap however it is important to understand the difference in first aid management- if the person is unconscious then DO NOT GIVE ANYTHING BY MOUTH.


Occurs when a person usually without a head cover is exposed to radiant heat in the sun


  • Very high body temperature (107-110 F)
  • Skin hot, red and dry.
  • No sweating, rapid and strong pulse.
  • May be


  • Cool the body quickly by undressing and repeatedly sponging the bare skin with cool water.
  • Use fan or A.C.
  • Do not give stimulants.

If at any stage of the illness patient becomes unconscious and does not regain consciousness within few minutes then you should call a doctor or shift the person to the nearest hospital.

Please spread this knowledge as much as you can and play your part in saving someone’s life.

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