Hyperthermia refers to a condition where the body temperature is significantly elevated beyond the normal range. Symptoms can vary based on the severity of hyperthermia and may include:
- Elevated Body Temperature: The core body temperature is higher than the normal range of around 98.6°F (37°C). Mild hyperthermia may involve temperatures between 100.4°F to 102.2°F (38°C to 39°C), while severe hyperthermia can exceed 104°F (40°C) or higher.
- Excessive Sweating: The body attempts to cool down through increased sweating, leading to wet or clammy skin.
- Dehydration: Prolonged hyperthermia can result in dehydration, with symptoms such as dark urine, decreased urine output, and thirst.
- Rapid Heart Rate: The heart rate may increase as the body attempts to cool itself.
- Rapid Breathing: Breathing rate may elevate in response to increased body temperature.
- Flushed or Red Skin: The skin may become red or flushed due to increased blood flow and dilation of blood vessels.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Hyperthermia can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea and vomiting.
- Headache: Persistent or severe headaches may occur as a result of the increased body temperature.
- Confusion or Disorientation: As body temperature rises, cognitive function may be affected, leading to confusion, disorientation, or even unconsciousness.
- Muscle Cramps or Weakness: Hyperthermia can cause muscle cramps or weakness due to the strain on the body’s cooling mechanisms.
In severe cases, hyperthermia can progress to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke, which are medical emergencies. Symptoms of heatstroke may include a lack of sweating, confusion, rapid and strong pulse, and loss of consciousness.
It’s crucial to address hyperthermia promptly by moving to a cooler environment, hydrating, and seeking medical attention if necessary, especially if symptoms are severe or persistent. Preventive measures, such as staying hydrated, avoiding excessive sun exposure, and taking breaks in cool environments during hot weather, are important for reducing the risk of hyperthermia.