This time of year we’re still set to experience some miserably hot weather. When we’re spending all our time outdoors in the summer heat, there can be some risks involved. Our bodies create a lot of heat themselves, and they typically cool down through sweating. However, in extremely hot weather, high humidity, and other conditions, our natural cooling mechanisms can be quickly overwhelmed.
With the majority of summer activities cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many kids are spending their summers at home. Parents might begin to wonder, “Is my child overheating?” when they notice a red face and fatigue from playing outside all day.
Too much heat can lead to a multitude of problems, including heat cramps, exhaustion, or heatstroke. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration in kids so you’ll be able to recognize an issue if and when one occurs. Let’s take a deeper look at what to do if your child overheats.
Heat Illnesses in Kids
Heat related illnesses exist on a spectrum from mild fatigue and malaise to life threatening conditions such as seizure.
Heat exhaustion is a mild form of heat related illness and is the result of your body overheating. While a mild case may not require immediate medical care, heat exhaustion can worsen. If you believe your child is suffering from this phenomenon, have them stop playing, sit in a cool spot, and drink fluids.
Monitor your child for these symptoms of heat exhaustion:
- Elevated body temperature
- Cool, clammy hands (despite the heat)
- Increased sweating
- Fainting, dizziness, or weakness
- Muscle cramps
- Fatigue or malaise
Dehydration is another form of heat illness that can go from mild to severe quite quickly. Mild or moderate dehydration symptoms will include dry mouth, thirst, cramps, headache, and darkened urine. This should be easily resolved by taking in fluids and electrolytes that were lost during activity and resting at home in the cool air. Oral fluids are just fine to treat mild to moderate dehydration.
However, be on the lookout for more severe symptoms of dehydration, such as shock, sunken eyes, dizziness, fainting, confusion, and irritability. Severe cases of dehydration in children require immediate medical attention. If you notice any worrying symptoms, don’t hesitate to call 911 or head to your nearest emergency room.
Heatstroke in Kids
Heatstroke is a severe condition that results from the body being unable to regulate its own temperature. If you suspect your child has heatstroke, you should call 911 immediately or head to the closest emergency room for medical attention. During heatstroke, a child’s body temperature can soar to 106°F or even higher, leading to brain damage or even death.
When kids are playing outside in the heat, or if they are overdressed and participating in an intense physical activity without drinking enough fluids or electrolytes, they are at risk of heatstroke. But don’t think this condition is limited to outdoor activities. This can also happen if your child is left in a car on a hot day, as a car’s internal temperature can quickly rise to dangerous levels within minutes.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Severe headache
- Weakness, dizziness
- Rapid breathing/heartbeat
- Loss of consciousness
- Lack of sweating despite high body temperature
- Hot, dry, flushed skin
- Temperature over 104°F
While you are waiting for help to arrive or on your way to the emergency room, make sure your child is indoors or in the shade. You should undress your child and sponge him or her with cool water. Do not give your child fluids unless they are awake, alert, and acting normally.
Heat Illness Prevention
There’s nothing more fun than spending time outside during the summer months, but it’s important to take precautions to keep your child from overheating and prevent any sort of heat illness from occurring—and remember to take care of yourself, as well.
Here are a few tips for staying cool and safe this summer:
- Try enjoying some of your outdoor activities during the morning or evening when it’s cooler outside.
- Wear moisture-wicking clothing that is loose and light in color to help keep you and your children cool.
- Seek shade whenever possible, especially while taking a rest or water break.
- Most importantly, have plenty of water on hand and take frequent breaks to cool off and avoid dehydration.
- If any mild symptoms start to occur, or you even suspect your child is overheating, head back inside for the day to recover.
The Urgency Room Is Here to Help
If your child has symptoms of heatstroke, call 911 immediately for medical attention. But what if your child is experiencing milder symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration? What should you do?
Visit The Urgency Room in Eagan, Woodbury, or Vadnais Heights. Our board-certified physicians will provide your child with high-quality care and work to get him or her healthy and ready to enjoy the rest of the summer outdoors.
Our first priority is always the health and well-being of you and your children. We’ll treat you here in our state-of-the-art facility and provide you with after-care videos to help you learn how to take care of yourself or your child after you’ve left our physicians. We’re open 365 days a year from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., including holidays.