The majority of heat illness cases are benign and easily reversed. After evaluation, diagnosis, and cooling treatment, the vast majority of patients presenting with mild to moderate disease can be discharged from the emergency department (ED). Important exceptions include heat stroke and lesser forms of heat illness occurring in patients who are elderly or debilitated or who have multiple comorbidities. Such conditions may result in major physiologic stress in situations of passive ambient heat exposure. This issue of Emergency Medicine Practice reviews the types of heat illness, their diagnosis, and their management. Knowing how to rapidly cool the patient, what sequelae to anticipate, and which processes mimic heat stroke can prevent mortality.
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