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Heat Stroke vs. Heat Exhaustion (please read even if you think you already know the difference)

Time of past OR future Camino
2022
Apropos of that poor pilgrim who died recently of heat stroke on the camino, I'd like to post an infographic of (updated) information on the differences between heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Many of us have experienced the former, and confuse it with the latter.

Almost all sources tell you that there is no sweating with heat stroke because the body can no longer produce sweat, but that is NOT ALWAYS the case. The skin may be damp, so if you come across someone who is cognitively not o.k. (confused, delirious, or unconscious), don't assume it is just heat exhaustion just bc they may still be damp, and do not give them anything to drink. The danger of heat stroke cannot be overstated and medical attention is needed immediately. Let's hope we can prevent more of these tragedies!

[Moderator note: The image has been edited to add the emergency number in Spain, and the body temperature in °C]

https://www.mclaren.org/port-huron/blog/summer-safety-tips-for-beating-the-heat-and-stayin-1820 Screenshot_20220712-180207r.png
 
Last edited by a moderator:
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Heat exhaustion is basically one type of exhaustion, and is generally cured by resting out of the causes of it, and so outside of the heat and Sun. Take a rest day.

Sunstroke can be more dangerous, and beyond a normal rest day, if it hits you, take the time needed, 24 to 72 hours, and get yourself into a situation of complete quiet, cool, and dark. Resting in a Monastery is the ideal, else anything similar.

Careful with water, as well-meaning people might try and give you too much, though when you're in that state it's hard to even start to think clearly.

Try anyway to get yourself alone and somewhere in the dark - - others may be well meaning, but your body and brain really need a complete time out. Drink normally, don't force it. Probably avoid food for the time being. Put your smartphone away !!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
don't assume it is just heat exhaustion just bc they may still be damp, and do not give them anything to drink.
The double negatives in this sentence could be a bit confusing.

From the chart, if you think it is just heat exhaustion, you do you give water to sip. If you think it is heat stroke you do not give them water to drink.

That would be a tough call, but it is helpful to know that water should be given sparingly at most, and that skin may still be damp in cases of heat stroke.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
What I'm doing currently against the heat is walking no more than 5 to 10 K daily, unless forced otherwise, though not every Camino route nor Pilgrimage project is susceptible to such a plan.

We all know that it's not a race, but it's also not an endurance trail. Your health is more important than your speed.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I think the drinking advice given in regard to heat exhaustion vs. sunstroke is a bit unhelpful, and what I've found in those situations is that it's best to drink if you are thirsty, and not try and force anything.
 
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dbier

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Last 114km Camino Frances, Jul 21
2023 - Camino P
To try to help clarify the advice....Basically, if the person is confused, groggy, or unconscious, *****don't***** try to put liquid down their throat. They run the risk of choking/aspirating. If they're conscious enough to swallow properly, offer sips of fluid, not gallons.

With heat exhaustion that is trying to transition to heat stroke, we would try to get ice and pack the armpits and groin area with it while waiting for advanced life support. Dumping water on skin and then fanning vigorously is not as effective, but better than nothing. And shade them by whatever means available...
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2009
To try to help clarify the advice....Basically, if the person is confused, groggy, or unconscious, *****don't***** try to put liquid down their throat. They run the risk of choking/aspirating. If they're conscious enough to swallow properly, offer sips of fluid, not gallons.

With heat exhaustion that is trying to transition to heat stroke, we would try to get ice and pack the armpits and groin area with it while waiting for advanced life support. Dumping water on skin and then fanning vigorously is not as effective, but better than nothing. And shade them by whatever means available...
For ice read packs of frozen peas
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021
Fisterra 2021
I don't mean to be a stick in the mud, but splitting these definitions is not really important. As an ER doc from Canada I would tell anyone if you come across another person who is in the sun and vomiting or acting unusual they need help beyond what can be done on the roadside. Create shade of some kind. Encourage some fluids for all, but stop if it seems to make the vomiting worse. Call for medical help. No one will be hurt by trying a glass or two of water (this does not mean a German beer stein).
 

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés
De la plata
What I'm doing currently against the heat is walking no more than 5 to 10 K daily, unless forced otherwise, though not every Camino route nor Pilgrimage project is susceptible to such a plan.

We all know that it's not a race, but it's also not an endurance trail. Your health is more important than your speed.
Plus, in my case note when it is just no fun any more. Stopping every 10 mins if you can find shade and waiting for the pulse to slow, noticing how you feel - completely fed up, desperate to stop, or simply not enjoying it anymore - these, too, are mental signs that you must get help to the end of the stage and stop.
 
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Robo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
The double negatives in this sentence could be a bit confusing.

From the chart, if you think it is just heat exhaustion, you do you give water to sip. If you think it is heat stroke you do not give them water to drink.

That would be a tough call, but it is helpful to know that water should be given sparingly at most, and that skin may still be damp in cases of heat stroke.

Symptoms seem very similar, or am I missing something? :oops:
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Symptoms seem very similar, or am I missing something? :oops:
Yes. Although one of the differences, body temperature over 103F isn't going to be much use if you don't have a thermometer, which I suspect most of us won't be carrying. That leaves the appearance and feel of the skin and whether the person is coherent or losing consciousness. It may make little difference at the margin, because if someone needs help because of heat stress, calling the emergency services would the most appropriate first aid response. First aiders will aim to preserve life so that someone can get proper medical care. They are not there to provide treatment - leave that to qualified medical people.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Plus, in my case note when it is just no fun any more. Stopping every 10 mins if you can find shade and waiting for the pulse to slow, noticing how you feel - completely fed up, desperate to stop, or simply not enjoying it anymore - these, too, are mental signs that you must get help to the end of the stage and stop.
My final K or 2 currently is a lot like that, except that I know that one day this heat wave will end.

39°C outside right now, I'm in a bar with cool beer ; and digesting steak and eggs. And mushrooms, garlic, etc, yummy.

Just be sensible and slow, even if the odd push beyond the limits to get to the next pueblo might become necessary on some particular days.

When I was young yadda yadda I could walk in this sort of heat, and I did, but insofar as a Camino is a journey of self-discovery, if one has limitations in the here and now, well, by all means discover them !!
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
39°C outside right now, I'm in a bar with cool beer ; and digesting steak and eggs. And mushrooms, garlic, etc, yummy.
What a sensible choice to get out of the heat. I walked to Fatima in early May when the temperatures were in the high 20sC, and I thought that was hot enough. I was going slowly for a range of reasons, especially crossing the ridgeline before Minde which I did in the afternoon. Stay safe.
 

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