The Spectrum of Heat-Related Illness


It’s a very common thing to hear about in the news. Heat-related illnesses are seen often in the summer months and athletes are not the only ones subject to this. People who participate in recreational activities outdoors are exposed to heat related illness as well.

“It’s not just athletes,” said Dr. Brett Bentley, assistant professor of Sports Medicine for the College of Community Health Sciences, during his September 14 presentation as part of the Mini Medical School Program hosted by the College and UA’s OLLI program.

Bentley’s presentation “The Spectrum of Heat-Related Illness” taught the signs and prevention of many common illness that are caused by heat.

The spectrum of illnesses ranges from minor illness, such as cramps and rashes, to the more serious, like heatexhaustion or heat stroke.

While more common in the summer, heat-related illnesses can occur throughout the year.

“You’re at a higher risk when its warmer because you’re sweating more and losing more salt through sweat,” said Bentley. “But you can absolutely get these in cool weather as well.”


Treatment for the majority of heat-related illnesses is the same. Put the person afflicted in a cool area, elevate their legs, remove excess clothing and ice them. Cool them down by pouring ice-cold water, or placing ice towels on the person. It’s also important to hydrate the person, so give them fluids orally if they can drink and only IV if necessary.


After addressing and treating symptoms of heat-related illnesses, it is important to monitor the person because they can slip back into suffering from the heat-related illness quickly.


Preventing heat-related illnesses are the most important part. Some ways to prevent heat-related illnesses include: acclimatize, be educated, wear proper clothing, be well rested, the timing of event, and being hydrated.