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Is It Sunstroke–Or Something Worse?

During hot weather, anyone can be struck by sunstroke or heat stroke. But how do you know if it’s sunstroke or something more serious? Stroke symptoms, AFib (atrial fibrillation) and more can mimic sunstroke in some ways, possibly causing a delay in life-saving medical attention. Here’s how to tell the difference.

If you are experiencing sunstroke, you may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed
  • Cramps or weakness in muscles
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shallow breathing
  • Red skin, not sweating despite temperature
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or walking

A stroke may also include symptoms of confusion, dizziness and weakness. However, stroke symptoms usually include numbness (particularly in just one side of the body) and blurred vision.

AFib also causes weakness, light-headedness and shortness of breath. In the cast of atrial fibrillation, the person will experience a fluttering or irregular heartbeat and chest pain.

If the person has been sitting in the hot sun for too long and starts to exhibit some of the symptoms above, chances are good that they are experiencing heatstroke. They should be moved to a cool location and given water.

However, if you aren’t sure whether the person is experiencing stroke symptoms, AFib, or some other medical emergency, call 911 for immediate help.

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