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The Difference between Heat Exhaustion and Flu

Incidence of Heat exhaustion and Flu are increased during extreme weathers. For heat exhaustion, a lot of people become prone to it because of the heat of the summer sun. On the other hand, when it comes to flu, the incidence is increased during the winter months. Both conditions are very different from each other, but there are some of the signs and symptoms that resemble each other. To better comprehend the two conditions, read along.

Heat Exhaustion

3The body has a way to cool down itself through sweating. Only in some cases, the body is unable to decrease the temperature due to extreme heat and dehydration. Elders and children, especially infants, are prone to heat exhaustion, which is really detrimental because it can cause the body to shut down.

During heat exhaustion the body begins to lose its ability to cool itself down most especially if you have been sweating a lot and have not replenished with fluids in any way. Without immediate medical attention heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke then eventually death. So be careful when you are out in the sun for too long.

Flu (Influenza)

4Flu is medically known as influenza. The term came from the Italian word “influenza del freddo”, which means “influence of the cold”.  It is a contagious infection of the respiratory tract caused by a virus. Everyone is susceptible to it, but there is an increase risk among children, elderly and immunocompromised individuals.

Heat Exhaustion vs. Flu

Heat Exhaustion


Causative Factor Extreme heat and exposure to the sun Influenza A and B strains
Mode of Transmission Noncontagious
  • Airborne
  • Droplet infection
  • Direct and indirect contact
Signs and Symptoms Initial S/Sx

  • Pallor
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Fatigue and general body malaise
  • Anxiety
  • Bradycardia
  • Syncope

Late and Serious S/Sx

  • High grade fever
  • Dry and reddish skin manifested primarily around the face
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Body malaise
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Stomach upset
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
Period of the Disease / Condition Process This condition can happen within hours of exposure to extreme heat of the sun. 3 days to 2 weeks
  • Application of cold compress on the pulse points, neck, forehead.
  • If conscious, give water, if possible, give ice chips.
  • If unconscious, have the person lie down with legs elevated.
Since flu is caused by a virus, you cannot do anything about it, merely let the disease take its course. However, you have to do the following to prevent any complications that may arise from it:

  • Bed rest
  • Increase fluid intake
  • Vitamin C and Zinc to boost the immune system
  • Acetaminophen or Paracetamol is given to mitigate fever and relieve some pain.
  • Antibiotics are not given and are proven to be ineffective because the flu is basically caused by a virus not bacteria.
  • Antiviral agents can be given during the early phase of the disease, however some strains show resistance to it.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Wear protective light, loose clothing – wearing a hat or using an umbrella is proven to be a very effective way to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays and extreme heat.
  • Flu Vaccine – reinforces the body’s immune system against certain strains of influenza virus
  • Healthy Lifestyle
  • Boost your immune system
  • Universal Precaution – Hand wash

Whether you are infected with an influenza virus or you are exhausted from the heat of the sun, it is important to alleviate the signs and symptoms in order to prevent any complications and serious implications for wellness. Having a healthy lifestyle may not be enough because everyone is susceptible to these conditions. You have to observe the universal precautions, which includes hand washing, proper hygiene and proper respiratory etiquette. In addition, the sun gives us some health benefits, although too much exposure to extreme sunlight and heat may do more harm than good. So, stay out of the sun’s extreme heat and drink a lot of water. Take care of your body – you only have one.

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