Etiology and Pathophysiology | Pediatric Heat-Related Illness

<< Pediatric Heat-Related Illness: Recommendations for Prevention and Management

Etiology and Pathophysiology

Core body temperature is maintained by the body’s ability to balance heat exposure and heat production with heat dissipation to the environment. Heat-related illness occurs when the body is unable to regulate its core temperature in response to excess heat exposure and heat production, coupled with decreased heat dissipation.

Heat Exposure

Nontrauma visits to the ED from mass gathering events (such as amusement parks and county fairs) indicate that 11% to 25% of all visits are due to heat-related illness.6,7 The majority of heat-related illness cases are seen during the summer months.8,9 During heat waves, ED visits, hospitalizations, and daily mortality rates are increased.10-13 Toloo et al found a significant increase in heat-related illness in children on heat-wave days in Australia, with a relative risk (RR) of 3.0 for days when the temperature was > 34°C (93.2°F) and a RR of 29.8 for days when the temperature was > 37°C (98.6°F).14

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