What is the Difference Between Heat Wave, Heat Dome, and Heat Stroke?

The temperature is rising around the world. The unprecedented heat has already caused a number of health-related problems such as heat exhaustion, hyperthermia, and many more. It has now become increasingly important to stay safe and take care of your health in this scorching heat. It is also important to understand the things that can affect your health.

During the summer season, we often come across these terms: heat wave, heat dome, and heatstroke. People hear or read about these terms frequently, but many of them are unaware of their different meanings and implications.

So, in this article, we will explore the difference between heat wave, heat dome, and heatstroke. But let’s define first.

What is a heatwave?

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) defines a heat wave as “an air temperature condition that proves fatal to the human body when exposed.”

In other words, a heat wave can be defined as a period of exceptionally high temperatures, much higher than the average temperature, which lasts for at least two consecutive days and which may or may not be accompanied by humidity.

In India, the IMD declares a heat wave if the temperature exceeds 40°C (104°F) in plain areas and 30°C (86°F) in mountains and hilly areas.

Exposure to heat waves can cause dehydration, cramps, heat exhaustion, and even heat stroke.

What is a thermal dome?

A heat dome occurs when heated ocean air is trapped in a large area, usually in the shape of a dome (hence the nomenclature). This heat dome causes an unprecedented increase in temperatures. It can affect huge areas, even spanning multiple states, and can last for days or even weeks.

What is a heat stroke?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that “heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature: the body temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body cannot cool down. When heat stroke occurs, body temperature can rise to 106°F or higher in 10 to 15 minutes.”

In other words, heat stroke is a serious health problem caused by extremely high temperatures. It is a serious medical problem that requires prompt medical attention. It causes the affected person’s body to lose its ability to regulate its temperature and causes it to increase rapidly.

Now that we have defined the three terms, let’s move on to the differences between them.

Heat wave, heat dome and heat stroke: what’s the difference?

These are the main differences between heat wave, heat dome and heatstroke.


Heat wave

heat dome



A prolonged period of excessive heat.

Huge high pressure system that traps hot air in the shape of a dome.

A health condition in which the body overheats due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures.


It can last several days.

It can last a few days or even weeks.

It can last hours or several days.

Geographical distribution

It affects a large region, for example, a country or continent.

Located in a specific area, usually a state, city, or town.

It occurs when exposed to higher temperatures for a long period of time.


High temperature and/or humidity.

Extremely high temperatures and stale air.

Body temperature rises rapidly, often above 104°F (40°C)


Dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat stroke.

Respiratory problems, poor air quality and heat exhaustion.

Cramps, nausea, dizziness, confusion, loss of consciousness, persistent fever, and even seizures.

Health risk

It can cause serious health problems, including death.

It can cause serious health problems, including death.

It can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.


Stay hydrated, avoid sun exposure, and use air conditioning.

Wear light clothing, stay indoors, and if you are outside, stand in cool or shaded areas.

Stay hydrated, avoid sun exposure, don’t overexert yourself, and rest in cool areas.

It is important to take care of yourself in summer. Failure to take the necessary precautions can lead to unwarranted health problems and, in some cases, even death. Try to stay indoors and in cool areas; use sunscreen; drink plenty of water; do not overexert yourself or stay in the sun for long periods of time; and try to recognize any signs of heat-related health problems. Take these necessary precautions and enjoy the summer.

We hope you found this article helpful in understanding the differences between a heat wave, heat dome, and heatstroke.

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Categories: Optical Illusion
Source: sef.edu.vn

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