Understanding Why Children Are More Prone to Heat-Related Illness

Heat-related illnesses occur when the body temperature rises quickly and remains high, typically because of prolonged exposure to high environmental temperatures. The most common heat-related illnesses include heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration. These conditions can become serious and even life-threatening quickly, which is why any patient suffering from a heat-related health concern should be evaluated and treated in an emergency room setting . Although these illnesses can affect individuals of any age, it’s important for parents and guardians to recognize that young children are more prone to heat-related illnesses than teens and adults.

Poorer Temperature Regulation

The human body has an internal temperature regulation system designed to prompt sweating and other changes when the temperature rises above a certain point. However, this system is not as advanced in children as it is for adults, simply because a child’s body is still growing and developing. Thus, children’s bodies are less able to regulate temperature effectively, and a child may overheat much more quickly than a teenager or adult under the same conditions.

Inability to Recognize Symptoms

One of the most common reasons why heat-related illnesses occur with such high frequency in children is a failure to recognize the earliest symptoms of these illnesses. Children, in particular, do not realize that signs such as excessive thirst, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, or muscle cramps mean that they must take steps to cool down immediately. If parents do not spot these signs or schedule preventive breaks in a cool environment and encourage rehydration, their children can quickly develop a heat-related illness.

Heat-related illnesses can pose a risk to all healthy individuals during the hot summer months. At Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center, our hospital and surgery center in Thousand Oaks wants you and your family to enjoy safe summer fun. Please visit our website to learn more about our emergency room facilities and important health tools for the entire family, or call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (877) 888-5746 for the answers to your questions or concerns about important health issues.

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