Heat Stroke in Babies: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

image001Heat stroke is a rather complex condition for infants. It occurs when the infant’s body overheats and can lead to heat stroke. Heat stroke is characterized by muscle heat cramps and can be threatening to the infant as they are more susceptible to damage caused by extreme heat.

Heat stroke can occur in different ways. It is best to learn of these ways to be able to prevent it from causing further complication to the infant.

Causes of Heat Stroke in Babies

As mentioned earlier, heat stroke is a condition that can be life threatening to babies. It occurs when a person’s body becomes overheated. It is caused by rise in body temperatures and the body’s inability to regulate it. Heat stroke is mostly common in babies and infants. It is possible for the baby to suffer from heat stroke when they stay outdoors for too long in hot weather.

Also, riding in a hot car and leaving the baby in the car puts them at risk of developing heat stroke. Heat stroke can occur even in a few minutes when a baby is left in a hot car as the temperatures escalate faster that in open space.

There are several ways through which the human body can overheat. Generally, high temperatures are the cause of heat strokes. This is especially common when high temperatures combine with high humidity as it increases the body’s temperature to dangerous levels. Wrapping an infant in too many layers of clothes can cause physical exertion, which leads to overheating even when the temperatures are not too high.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke in Babies

Babies will show signs of mild heat exhaustion. You will also notice that the baby becomes unusually thirsty and tired while the appearance of the skin turns to moist and cool. If the baby can speak, they may complain of stomach cramps and leg cramps.

If the heat exhaustion develops into heat stroke, you may notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Dehydration
  • Hot red dry skin
  • A temperature that exceeds 39.4 degrees Celsius or 103 degrees Fahrenheit without sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Unconsciousness
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Lethargy (lack of responding normally to calling their names or tickling their skin)

What Can I Do If My Baby’s Got Heat Stroke?

1. Bring down the Temperature

This should be the first thing you do. Try to lower the internal temperatures as quickly as possible. Be very time-conscious, because heat stroke can very easily lead to unconsciousness. Remove any unnecessary clothing. Ensure you control the body temperature into a normal level.

2. Move the Baby to a Cool Area and Call 911

You can move the child to a place with air conditioning or somewhere shady and cool. If you are in a position to rush the baby to the hospital, then do it as fast as you can. If you call 911 and the emergency response is delayed, call the accident and emergency department for further instructions.

3. Talk to the Baby and Keep Him Calm

Keep a conversation going between you and the baby and avoid giving him anything to drink until the paramedics get to you. Do not give them heat lowering medication as heat stroke cannot be lowered by this medication.

4. Provide Plenty of Liquids

If your child is showing signs of heat exhaustion that has not developed into heat stroke, you can give them plenty of liquids. You can give the baby breast milk or formula milk and if he is older than 4 months, you can give them some water.

5. Give Them a Cool Bath and Stay Indoors

It is also ideal to give the baby a cool bath and ensure they remain indoors for the rest of the day if they show signs of heat exhaustion. In case the baby develops heat stroke, you can place them in a bath of cool water or give them an ice bath before going to the doctor’s. This is first aid to reduce the temperatures.

How to Prevent Heat Stroke in Babies



Stay hydrated all the time

Ensure that your baby takes in extra liquids, especially plain water in hot weather. Babies who are breastfeeding still need extra liquid from the bottle or breast. If you are a nursing mother, you need to increase your intake of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Stay indoors during heat waves

During heat waves, ensure that the baby is kept indoors in a well aired room, preferably with air conditioning. Actually, air conditioning is the number one way of preventing heat strokes. While fans can help a bit, they cannot do much when the heat soars into the 90s.

Take outdoors prevention

If you must take your baby outdoors, dress them in bright colored light weight clothing. You must carry sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen for your child when going outdoors as they protect the child from sun rays.

Don’t leave your baby alone in the car

Avoid leaving your child unattended in a car. Even if you leave the windows open, cars heat up pretty quickly and can reach dangerous levels in just 10 minutes.

Look out for heat advisories

You can rely on the national weather service to issue heat alerts. If you live in an area that has been hit with a heat warning, it is best to keep your baby indoors in a cool and air conditioned room.

For more details on how you can prevent heat stroke in babies, check out this video:

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