The diagnosis of heatstroke usually involves examining the symptoms, conducting a physical evaluation, and measuring body temperature.

Laboratory testing may be required to help confirm the diagnosis, rule out other possible causes of the symptoms, and evaluate organ damage. Tests that may be ordered include:

  • Rectal temperature: Compared to oral or forehead thermometer, this method is more precise of taking the core temperature of the body.
  • Blood tests: To determine whether the central nervous system has been affected, this test may be required. It can determine the amount of gases in the blood, as well as the sodium and potassium levels.
  • Urinalysis: This can determine whether the kidney function was impacted by heatstroke. Generally, this is done to determine whether one has a heat-related illness based on the color of the urine, which is often darker.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG): This could be performed to monitor heart electrical activity.
  • Tests of muscular function: Rhabdomyolysis can occur following a heatstroke. This test can look for signs of severe muscle tissue injury.
  • Imaging tests: Such as X-rays, are performed to look for internal organ damage.


Prompt medical intervention is crucial in the treatment of heatstroke. The primary focus is on rapidly cooling the body to prevent or reduce potential damage to the brain and vital organs. Healthcare professionals discontinue cooling procedures once the body temperature stabilizes at approximately 102°F (38.9°C). The length of hospital stay varies depending on the severity of the heatstroke and the condition of the organs.

Treatment options typically include:

  • Immersion in cold water: There is a lower chance of fatalities and organ damage the faster a person is soaked in cold water. Research has shown that the fastest way to reduce the body’s core temperature is to take a bath in cold or ice water.
  • Use of ice and cooling blankets: The body core temperature can be lowered by using special cooling blankets and applying ice packs to specific areas like the groin, neck, back, and armpits.
  • Evaporation cooling techniques: The procedure involves misting cool water on the body while warm air is fanned over, promoting evaporation and skin cooling.
  • Administering medications: To prevent shivering, which can increase body temperature and hinder the effectiveness of treatment, muscle relaxants such as benzodiazepines may be administered.
  • Cold-water lavage. The procedure involves putting cold water into body cavities using catheters. This helps lower the overall body temperature, with catheters inserted into the rectum or down the throat.