What is heat stress and how can it affect me?

May 5, 2017

What is heat stress?

When heat is combined with other stresses such as physical activity, loss of fluids, fatigue or some medical conditions, it may lead to heat-related illness, disability and even death. Heat stress occurs when external factors prevent the body from naturally cooling itself down.

How could it affect me?

Heat stress can affect anyone who becomes overheated and is especially a cause for concern for people who work in warm environments.

Heat stress can dangerous because it puts workers at risk of heat-related illnesses such as:

  • heat rash
  • heat exhaustion
  • heat cramps
  • heat collapse (fainting)
  • heat fatigue
  • heat stroke

Heat stroke is a serious condition which can result in a permanent disability or death.

The symptoms of heat stress can include: nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, weakness, feeling faint, headache, fatigue, thirst, excessive sweating and higher-than-normal body temperature. Heat stress can develop into heat stroke and become fatal if not treated. 

Although the effects of heat stress are usually reversible, there are some studies that indicate long-term effects.  The long-term effects can include chronic heat exhaustion, sleep issues and increased vulnerability to minor injuries and illnesses.

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