What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sunstroke in Children?

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Children overheat more easily than adults do. The American Academy of Pediatrics says children generate 20 to 25 percent more heat for their weight during exercise than adults do. Sunstroke -- also called heatstroke -- is a medical emergency. If you suspect heatstroke, call 9-1-1, or take your child to the nearest emergency center immediately.

Warning Signs

Before your child overheats to the point of sunstroke, he will show signs of heat exhaustion. He may be sweating heavily, while his skin feels cold and clammy. He may feel weak, tired, dizzy or nauseated and have muscle cramps or a rapid heartbeat. If his temperature -- taken rectally, if possible -- is 103.1 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, your child is suffering from heat exhaustion.


If your child does not cool down, his condition will progress to heatstroke, which can damage organs and prove fatal. Symptoms can include a fever of 104 degrees F or higher, lack of sweat, severe headache, dizziness, confusion, flushed skin, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat and seizures. All symptoms may not be present.

What to Do

If you suspect your child has heatstroke, begin cooling him while emergency responders are on their way. Get him into an air-conditioned room or in front of a fan. If possible, remove his clothing and get him into a cool bath, or wet him with a garden hose, but do not let him drink. In his altered state, he could inhale fluid into his lungs.