Signs of Heat Sickness and When to Seek Help


We are currently under a weather advisory for heat and humidity, with the heat index expected to reach 97 in parts of Penobscot County. It is important to be mindful and hydrate frequently. Remember to look out for one another, especially children, older adults, and pets.

Dr. Jonnathan Busko

Prevention is the best treatment, said Jonnathan Busko, MD, Emergency Medicine at St. Joseph Healthcare. “Most people with heat exhaustion feel tired, weak, sick to the stomach, or may become lightheaded. When you are dehydrated, sports drinks can help you replace water and electrolytes (salts in the blood).”

John Lee, RN CEN,TNS NE-BC, Director of Emergency Services at St. Joseph Healthcare, reminds us that during high heat advisories, staying hydrated looks different. “Most people believe that eight glasses of water a day is all that they need, however, during these times you may need double or even triple the amount of fluids. If you’re outside, work or play in spurts with 30 minutes in the heat and 30 minutes in the shade.”

Seven signs of heat sickness:

  • Cool, moist skin when in the heat (may have goosebumps)
  • Heavy sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps

When should you seek medical attention? Dr. Busko recommends, that “if you are too sick to keep down fluids, are passing out or almost passing out when you stand up, are confused, or if you check your temperature and you have a temperature above 100.4°F, come to the emergency department to get checked out and treated if needed.” In an emergency, always call 9-1-1. Our Emergency Department is here when you need us, 24-hours a day.

(207) 907-1000