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Health Effects Heat Stress - CDC Tracking Network

Heat stress is heat-related illness caused by your body's inability to cool down properly. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn't enough. In such cases, a person's body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.

As a result of the changing climate, serious weather events, like heat waves, happen more often. These changes have the potential to affect human health in several direct and indirect ways, some of them severe.

Anyone can develop heat stress. However, the following groups of people have higher risks for experiencing heat stress or heat-related death:

  • Infants and children up to four years of age,
  • People 65 years of age and older,
  • People who are overweight, and
  • People who are ill or on certain medications

Heat-related death or illnesses are preventable if you follow a few simple steps.

  • Stay cool.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Stay informed.

Air conditioning is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illness. Exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk for heat-related illness.

Read more information about extreme heat.

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