The quick answer is pretty much never. Heat stroke is an acute-onset, life-threatening medical emergency. Dial 911 or local emergency services and cool the person down with whatever means are available—starting with getting the person out of the sun and removing any excess clothing. An ice bath is pretty much ideal, despite the myth that the person may go into shock. If water is available, try to wet or douse as much of the person’s skin area as possible, in addition to having the person drink some water if they are able to swallow. Don’t panic, but don’t wait to take action. The first minutes are the most crucial, and an untreated heat stroke may be fatal within 30-60 minutes of the first symptoms—which themselves may go unnoticed for some time.
Walk-In Clinics Still an Important Resource for Surviving Heat Waves
That said, urgent care clinics may be the answer for less severe heat exhaustion, dehydration, or altitude sickness in which vague symptoms of fatigue, confusion, headaches, nausea and vomiting, and body pains make these conditions harder to recognize. You may know something is amiss even if the symptoms aren’t life-threatening. Urgent care clinics may also be the place to go for follow-up care. Heat strokes are a big deal. The recovery can be uneven and often continues even after being discharged from the hospital. If you’re feeling fatigue, headaches, stomach aches, chest pain, or trouble concentrating, you may not know whether these setbacks are part of your recovery, signs of a complication or a new health condition altogether. Heat-related illness can especially take a toll on the cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems. These setbacks may not be life-threatening, but you may also not want to wait for an appointment with your regular doctor. Urgent care is the solution.
Use this resource to find locations and open hours for urgent care centers and emergency rooms in the Denver area, as well as a simple guide to know when to go to the ER vs Urgent Care.
Acute Care Services with Detailed Patient Histories
Trying to parse out the lingering effects of heat exhaustion from other health problems isn’t always easy. Knowing how you can best prevent heat stroke for your individual physiology while still enjoying summer activities is important for your personal health and your quality of life. Rocky Mountain Urgent Care also has a family practice and specialized health services including physical exams, physical therapy, behavioral health, occupational medicine, weight management, and asthma/allergy care. This allows us to provide urgent care services while also having access to detailed histories for those patients who see us for primary care.
Don’t discount the value of urgent care with walk-in clinic access to both your personal health and your crammed schedule. Being able to get an appointment quickly and reliably can mitigate the symptoms and risk of current medical problems. It also puts more time back in your schedule to recuperate from strenuous activity and to prepare ahead of time for outdoor summer events. This leads to fewer and less severe cases of heat-related illness in Denver. Putting more time back into parents’ schedules can also mean fewer heat stroke deaths from leaving a child inside a hot vehicle.
More Information about Heat Strokes and Heat-Related Illness