Sun Stroke Symptoms

Updated February 21, 2017

Sunstroke, also known as heat stroke or hyperthermia, occurs when a person's body can no longer cool itself down. This can be caused by overexposure to the sun or any high temperature environment. If left untreated, sunstroke can turn into a life threatening condition. Knowing the signs and symptoms of sunstroke will allow you to seek medical help immediately, keeping the person experiencing sunstroke safe.


A person suffering from sunstroke may perspire a lot more than usual. Eventually, though, the person will stop sweating due to dehydration. Other visual signs of sunstroke may include skin that is hot, red and/or dry. The person may also begin going through cold chills. As sunstroke persists, a person's heart rate will increase. They may then get dizzy, have trouble breathing or even lapse into unconsciousness. A person with severe sunstroke may even have a seizure.


An individual doesn't have to be running around or doing anything at all in order to suffer from sunstroke. A person who sits out in the hot sun for several hours without hydrating himself properly is prone to sunstroke. While senior citizens and young children are more likely to suffer from sunstroke, this can happen to people at any age, weight and fitness level. People who are "in shape" are not immune to sunstroke. In fact, these individuals increase their chances of getting sunstroke if they exercise outside in extremely hot weather.


Wear clothing that is suitable for hot conditions. T-shirts and shorts are recommended for these times. You should drink plenty of water, at least 1 glass an hour, when staying in an extremely hot environment for a long while. Avoid overexertion on a hot, sunny day, as it increases the likelihood that you will suffer a sunstroke. You should also stay away from alcoholic beverages as they dehydrate the body more quickly. Finally, you should remove yourself from hot conditions after awhile. Sitting in front of a fan or an air-conditioned room will suffice.

What to Do

Heat exhaustion comes before heat stroke. This is that feeling you get when you've been in the heat for a long time and begin to feel fatigued and sick to your stomach. You will also sweat quite a lot. Once this begins, you should stop whatever you are doing and immediately get a cold drink. It's also wise to go to a cool place, such as an air-conditioned vehicle or room. If you begin experiencing any of the symptoms of sunstroke, immediately call 911. If untreated, your organs could become damaged and even shut down.

Expert Insight

Ask your doctor if you are susceptible to sunstroke. Certain medications and physical ailments make increase the likelihood that you could get sunstroke during the warm, summer months. Your doctor may also be able to give you tips that you can use while out in the sun. You should realise that sunstroke is not something that happens to those who simply can't "handle" the sun or heat. It has nothing to do with bodily weakness. Know your own body and realise when you can't take anymore of the heat. By taking steps to cool yourself down before sunstroke sets in, you may actually save your own life.

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About the Author

Andrew Smith has been a freelance writer since 2006, specializing in sports and technology. His work has appeared on various online sites. Smith has a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Pennsylvania State University.