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What are Symptoms of Sunstroke?

Sunstroke, a severe form of heatstroke, manifests through symptoms like throbbing headaches, dizziness, muscle weakness, nausea, and rapid heartbeat. It can escalate to confusion, seizures, or unconsciousness if untreated. Visual cues include flushed skin and lack of sweating despite the heat. How can you protect yourself and recognize these signs in others? Let's examine the preventative measures and response strategies.
Garry Crystal
Garry Crystal

Sunstroke is a life threatening condition caused by overexposure to extreme heat. Also sometimes called heatstroke, this condition occurs when the body’s heat control system fails and it cannot lose the excessive heat. High temperatures can cause the body’s major organs to fail.

There are a large variety of symptoms present with the onset of sunstroke. In the early stages, the skin will become both hot and dry. Sweating usually stops, and breathing becomes rapid enough to bring on hyperventilation.

Having a headache is one of the symptoms of sunstroke.
Having a headache is one of the symptoms of sunstroke.

The body’s temperature, along with the pulse, will begin to rise rapidly. Other symptoms include muscle cramps and headaches. There may also be some mental and verbal confusion. Speech may be unintelligible or incoherent, and violent behavior may appear.

As sunstroke becomes more severe, the sufferer may be prone to hallucinations. The body’s temperature will rise rapidly, and convulsions may occur. Finally, the sufferer will lose consciousness.

The cause of sunstroke is usually lengthy exposure to high temperatures. It can also be caused by heat exhaustion. People who work outside are susceptible, as are people who exercise for long periods of time without proper fluid intake.

Drinking water can help with sunstroke.
Drinking water can help with sunstroke.

Sunstroke can happen to anyone, but older people and children are more susceptible. If the body has had or is going through an illness, then sunstroke may occur more easily. Also, wearing clothes that are not suitable for high temperatures can contribute to symptoms.

Certain medications can also contribute to the onset of sunstroke. Antidepressants, beta blockers and diuretics may have an adverse affect and interfere with the body’s heat control system. Sudden cramps and muscle spasm are also symptoms.

If sunstroke occurs, a doctor or medical help should be sought immediately. Blood pressure and body temperature tests will be taken in order to diagnose the condition. Urine and blood samples may also be taken.

A blood sample may be taken from a sunstroke patient.
A blood sample may be taken from a sunstroke patient.

Depending on the extremity of the condition, a stay in the hospital may be required. Body temperature will need to be lowered as soon as possible. Fluids and salt will need to be replaced, usually by an intravenous (IV) drip. A period of observation will also be necessary to monitor any temperature changes and to look for any complications that may occur.

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Discussion Comments


One month and two weeks ago I went to visit an elderly friend of mine 87 years young. on our way back I felt strange so we went to the hospital they gave me saline: a salt and water mixture intravenously. They said I was dehydrated. Then they sent me home.

The next day, after calling 811, a nurse told us to go back to the hospital again. So I drank Gatorade to replace the electrolytes in my legs. Finally, they saw I could not walk well. They took X-rays and said I was fine. Even though I could walk a little, my walking was diminishing. It was getting worse and my mind felt weird with a compression-like feeling on my head. They told me they had no beds left.

The x-ray tech forced me to stand even though I could not walk and I could not stand on my legs. I told her to let me lie down. She refused. Anyway, they said I had sunstroke. The doctor was not helpful. I insisted they give me a referral for physical therapy at least, and we left. They said good luck.

When we got home, my husband had already taken eight days off and he had to go back to work. We called my mom, who is 80 years young, and I went to stay there. I could not brush my teeth or go to the bathroom. I could not concentrate or watch TV and was not hungry.

I stayed at my mom's for a month. I used my cell phone to stimulate my brain with word puzzles and texted my husband and friends. I walked up and down my mom's hallway. Then with her walker 20 times a day, and then I did 60 knee-bends a day. Then I sat up on the balcony and rocked my knees an hour daily in my mom's rocking chair. Then I started to take her garbage out twice a day and then to go down the hallway in her house. I started to get her mail. Then I started to go to the end of her walkway in the front of her house. Then I started to walk to the corner soon to the park and do five laps around the soccer field then walked halfway to her shopping center.

Finally, I was able to go to the next building and do my laundry. Up until then, my husband did it. Then I decided it was time to come home. Of course my husband visited me twice a week when was at my moms. Now I am home. My fabulous husband took another week to welcome me home. I walk every day started at the park then to the bus stop.

Today I took a bus ride but had to get off and take a taxi; it was too hard for me. But we did it, my family and I. The hospital did nothing. My point in telling you my story is to be careful and force the doctors to listen. They gave me no follow up either. I am a social worker and that is why I was able to make the doctor honor his oath and I am going for physio next week. I still cannot walk. They should have kept me in but they sent me home.


How much water do you have to drink?


I am 14 and I am really hot and not sweating whatsoever. I've got a banging headache and belly ache. Is it sunstroke?


I laid in the sun most of the day yesterday and the day before I went to the beach. The temp has been 26*c but I've been feeling sick all the time and have loss of appetite. I also feel drained and have diarrhea. Is this heatstroke or heat exhaustion? Please help someone?


I continuously feel like throwing up. Can anyone tell me what to do? I also am having heaps of headaches and am very dizzy. Help me.


I was in the sun a few days ago for about two hours straight in florida tanning, and I got a big rash on both my legs and they are like little red dots. I guess they're like a sun rash. Now this morning I woke and my sweat was just running off of me and when I got up to go throw up, I got really, really weak. Also, I have diarrhea with it, and I'm really tired.


I've been playing soccer for four hours in 32 degrees celsius, and now I feel cold, it's hard to breathe and I feel nauseated. Is this heatstroke?


I have this right now and it's horrible I can't think straight or eat properly, I become confused, and have hot and cold sweats but also my nose is blocked. Is this common too? I can't blow anything out. It's really strange and annoying.


My brother is eight years old and the other day he came home from his friend's house and he kept feeling dizzy. Then mum felt his body and he was really hot. Does anybody know what my brother has got?


I am a resident of a more humid but not so hot climate. My job requirements have brought me to one of the hottest places in the country. Here, I have started getting a few of the symptoms of sunstroke but want to confirm whether it's actually sunstroke or not.

So my question is, "Is there something else that resembles a sunstroke, but is not as severe?"

P.S. I am having headache, a light feverish feeling, muscle pain in my right foot, giddiness. I have suffered from whatever this is two times in the past two years, hence I am more concerned now.


@anon196343: Five and a half hours on the beach? No, I doubt you have sunstroke. You have "cooked like a lobster" syndrome, and the only cure for it is time.

You're hurting because your skin is burned and inflamed. I recommend you get some aloe vera gel and put it in the fridge, then when it's cold, rub it on your skin. Also, try taking ibuprofen, which is an anti-inflammatory, drink lots of water and stay out of the sun to avoid making bad matters worse. If you start feeling really bad, your skin starts raising blisters or if you run a fever, see a doctor.

I guess most of us get a bad sunburn at least once in our lives, and it sounds like you've got a real doozy. I hope you're not on vacation, because the next couple of days aren't going to be fun.

Sorry to sound like a prophet of doom, but I've been there. Next time, use a good sunblock with at least 30 spf, reapply every 45 to 60 minutes, wear sunglasses and a hat. A sunburned scalp is a particularly fun kind of torture -- especially when it starts *peeling*!


I am 15 and spent five and a half hours in the sun on the beach yesterday. Last night my skin had turned bright red and today my skin is burning, I have been having headaches, I am extremely tired and when I move it hurts but I am unsure whether this is because of the burns or just when I move in general. I am wondering if this is sunstroke or something else that is wrong with me?


I'm 15 and went to the park yesterday with my friend. it was unusually hot for where i live (scotland) and today i feel terrible. i have sunburn on both my arms, and my whole body hurts.

i have a headache and have a very dry throat. also i am constantly sneezing. i have a few other things wrong with me but i was wondering if this is really bad hay fever? i would think it is but I've been bad with hay fever before and never felt like this.


my baby is six months old and is suffering from the above symptoms for two days. can anybody suggest a good solution for my problem?


My son is 13 so it would seem he is deemed old enough to take responsibility for himself in the sun, however he was out in the sun on a school trip for four and a half hours.

He put sunblock on in the morning but they went swimming then played in the sand and without re applying sunblock, no hat or shirt. His skin was red (he's never been burnt before) and he vomited and had diarrhea this evening. I feel this is a health and safety issue and the school has a responsibility by making sure children slip, slop and slap


Well I'm 14 and I spent a 12 hour day on Saturday at my local baseball field. It was around 30• C, I raked the whole large diamond (field) twice all by myself, worked in the canteen most of the time and had to coach my U7's team. I then had headaches, bad cramps and my eyes were so sore, I'm still feeling it today. Do you think I might have sunstroke?


drink special water with essential salts which are sold in drug stores! it really helps as it is very important to restore very important salts in your body!


i am on holiday in morocco with my parents and friend jasmine. jasmine and i went out surfing today and jasmine has some symptoms of sunstroke.

She has hallucinated smells of olives and cooking, she has become very lethargic and drowsy, she has suffered violent sickness and diarrhea, she has been suffering hot and cold flushes, and she has mild muscle spasms in her left thigh.

could this be sunstroke?

we also have suspicions that these symptoms could be the result of swallowing too much sea water. Any help working out what is the matter?


i was out in the sun a yesterday but it is only today i have started feeling ill. My head aches and I have aching limbs. could this be delayed sunstroke?


My name is steve. I was working out in the sun yesterday for 12 hours. when i came home my head was so sore and i have been feeling confused and strange.


I believe my 10 year old daughter may have caught a touch of sunstroke on Saturday. She was in the hot sun for over four hours and she did tell me she knew she wasn't drinking a lot of water. She started running a fever Sunday morning, vomited two times, and was very lethargic. She also was very tired and she had headache. Today, Monday, she feels almost 100 percent better.

I see a pattern, because about two weeks ago, she was in the sun all day and the very same thing happened. I made her drink tons of water Sunday all day. She complained that she was tired of going to the bathroom but to me as long as she was going we were on the road to recovery. Drink lots of water when you are in the hot sun.

I see the pattern from the first time to this time and she is possibly prone to this now. We will be talking to the doctor to find out more information. --Concerned Mom, Vernon Hills, IL


I have suffered for four days with sun stroke without really knowing what it was. Today I stayed in bed with exhaustion cramps, headache, feeling hot but dry and very depressed. Pain killers didn't work. It wasn't until 5 p.m. that i had food and drink which helped a bit.

Later I let the cold shower run over my head until I couldn't feel the cold any longer, and that felt much better. But I still feel a bit bad. Any ideas on what to do now? I really don't want an other day of this feeling. Many thanks.


well I'm 13 and went down to the beach today and have got a headache and sunburn and I', achy but I'm not sure if i have sunstroke or it's just me being ill. Someone tell me please. i also am struggling to keep my eyes open.


Thank you so much anon88462! I didn't know if I had some sort of bug or heatstroke and you cleared it up for me!


My daughter of six went on a school trip yesterday to a local country park (Rufford Park -- very nice). She wore a hat all day and they could only take their normal school water bottle.

She is now off today with what seems to be sunstroke and it is not pretty. The school did not take any extra water with them. Totally outrageous. The school has felt my wrath over not taking enough water and keeping them out all day in the sweltering heat.


yesterday i was in the sun all day working. it was seriously hot. when i finished, i went to the gym with a partner and i couldn't even work out. it was almost as if i couldn't be bothered, so i was told to just sit in the swimming pool for a little while to cool down, that i was in the sun too much without protection.

i thought i would be fine and i didn't feel too bad so i went to the pub with my partner and couldn't bear it anymore. i went completely the wrong way: getting cold and shivering. i couldn't even have a sip of my beer, then i started getting a watery mouth and feeling as if i were going to be sick, so i went to the toilet but i wasn't sick. i had the runs after that.

i had to go home feeling really light-headed and jittery with a headache and i was throwing up all over the place. the next day i wasn't so bad. just make sure you drink plenty of water and eat some toast.


"I think I have sunstroke...what do I do now?" Use you bloody brain and go and see a doctor or go to the hospital! I'm pretty sure if you have time to search the web to see if you have the symptoms of sunstroke you wouldn't have the time to browse the web! Come on just get some common sense please!


I had sunstroke when i was eight, and all i remember was one minute i was happy as larry in a paddling pool and the next minute bang! My muscles cramped, my eyesight went completely red, i sweated like i can't describe, felt like i was being spun around at 30mph and fainted.

Yes, once you're exposed, you are more vulnerable to sun stroke. also i had swelling i looked like the elephant man. it's horrible and the pain is unbearable. you just want water 24/7.

i wouldn't wish it on anyone. I'm 21 now and I've had it six times since my first time at eight years old.


my daughter played soccer today in an open field and she ran around a lot and she isn't feeling well. her temperature is a bit high and she is dizzy. should i see a doctor?


i have spent most of the day in the sun. well it was sunny but cloudy with a bit of wind. i am feeling sick and have got bad headaches. could i be suffering from sunstroke?


right i don't know if i've got sun stroke. i've been feeling dizzy like i was drunk all day. it's been 40 degrees yesturday and today


I was out in the sun for a few hours without realizing how much I had burnt. I have most of the symptons above. What shall I do now?


hi I've been suffering for the past couple of days with headaches sweating but freezing drenched in sweat sore throat was just wandering if I've had sunstroke was only out in sun for couple of hours ???


as a woman who is in her mid 20's, i have been suffering from sunstroke since i was at a very young age, it's not a nice thing to get year in year out, i don't eat much when i get sunstroke i just tend to drink a lot of water, i feel very weak when i want to go out or i'm pushing my daughter's buggy.


can one heat stroke put you at risk for future sunstrokes or heat strokes? my father in law suffered one several years ago, and now is extremely susceptible to the heat. my mom also had one where she stopped sweating completely. she got very weak, and rested and drank fluids, then suddenly became drenched with sweat. fortunately, she recovered after that without having to make a trip to the hospital.

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    • Having a headache is one of the symptoms of sunstroke.
      By: Jasmin Merdan
      Having a headache is one of the symptoms of sunstroke.
    • Drinking water can help with sunstroke.
      By: zirconicusso
      Drinking water can help with sunstroke.
    • A blood sample may be taken from a sunstroke patient.
      By: JPC-PROD
      A blood sample may be taken from a sunstroke patient.
    • Sweating and a raised pulse are symptoms of sunstroke.
      By: roboriginal
      Sweating and a raised pulse are symptoms of sunstroke.
    • An intravenous drip may be used to replace lost fluids and salt from sunstroke.
      By: grieze
      An intravenous drip may be used to replace lost fluids and salt from sunstroke.
    • The cause of sunstroke is usually lengthy exposure to high temperatures.
      By: Maridav
      The cause of sunstroke is usually lengthy exposure to high temperatures.
    • Fluids and salt lost during a sunstroke can be replaced using an intravenous drip.
      By: ShpilbergStudios
      Fluids and salt lost during a sunstroke can be replaced using an intravenous drip.