In those with existing medical conditions, heat exposure can cause heat-related health problems due to worsening symptoms of existing disease. Diseases that can increase the risk of heat-related health problems can include:
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heat and health problems associated with existing medical conditions.
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Heat-related illness can affect anyone. Heat-related illness includes heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash. Dehydration can increase the risk of developing a heat-related illness.
Heat-related illness can range from mild to severe and the response required includes:
Heat stroke is the most severe heat-related illness. In extreme heat, your body’s ability to cool itself down can fail, causing your body temperature to increase to a dangerous level. If left untreated, this can result in permanent disability or death. Heat stroke requires immediate medical emergency care.
Symptoms of heat stroke may include:
Heat stroke is extremely dangerous and can quickly threaten life. If you are concerned about heat stroke, immediately call triple zero (000).
Seek advice from a doctor before taking aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol to treat the symptoms of heat stroke as they may be harmful.
Heat exhaustion is your body’s response to a loss of water and salt in hot weather, usually through excessive sweating or excessive physical activity.
The symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat-related illness. They are painful muscle cramps and spasms caused by your body’s loss of salt due to excessive sweating.
Heat cramps can occur during or after intense exercise. Heat cramps can be a symptom of more serious heat exhaustion.
To relieve heat cramps:
Another effect of heat exposure can be heat rash. When excessive sweat blocks sweat glands a red, itchy rash with small bumps or blisters where skin touches skin may develop.
The neck, groin, armpits, inside of the elbow and under breasts are areas where heat rash can occur.
Heat rash normally goes away without treatment and can be helped by keeping skin cool and dry.
healthdirect website for more information about how to treat heat rash, and when to seek medical device.
When a person is exposed to heat, the body responds in ways to keep the body temperature from getting too high.
Read about how hot weather affects the body
Older people, people with existing medical conditions, babies and young children, outdoor workers, socially isolated people, people who are homeless and pregnant women are at risk of heat-related health problems.
For example, in hot weather babies and young children are unable to keep cool as easily as adults. And if you are aged over 65, age-related changes to your body can also increase the risk of heat-related health problems. This can result in a serious medical incident if you already have an existing disease.
Read more about
who is most at risk of heat-related illness.
Or read some tips on ways to look out for each other during hot weather.