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Heat Stroke – What to do? Preventive tips

What is heat stroke

What is heat stroke?

Heatstroke is a condition of overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures and body’s failed attempt at heat regulation.

What happens during a heat stroke? 

Excessive exposure to high temperatures can lead to heat exhaustion which progresses to heat cramps and heat stroke. The ability to regulate body heat is severely compromised due to prolonged exposure to heat that causes hyperthermia (above normal body temperature). Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury where the body temperature reaches 40.60C or more. 

Hyperthermia along with altered mental behavior, sweating, nausea, and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, racing heart rate, or a headache are the indicators of heat stroke. If you suspect heat stroke, call for immediate medical help.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Untreated heat stroke may lead to vital organ failure, poor biochemical (and enzyme related) functions, and severe dehydration. In extreme cases of heat stroke, the patient may suffer seizure and unconsciousness and death.

during a heat stroke

Who is at increased risk of heat stroke? 

  • Children (infants and toddlers)and elderly people (>65 years),
  • People who are engaged in extensive activity or exposedto the sun for long hours,
  • Patients suffering from certain heart or lung diseases, and
  • Patients under medication such as BP medicines, antidepressants, over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. 

How do I know if it is heat stroke? 

Heat stroke may be felt as –

  • Muscle cramps
  • Heavy sweating
  • Extreme weakness
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Dark colored urine
  • Pale skin 

How to fight heat stroke?

If you suspect any of the above symptoms, follow an immediate action plan: 

  1.  Move the patient to a shady and cool place, preferably indoors.
  2.  Remove any excess clothing to reverse claustrophobia and confusion.
  3.  Avoid crowding around the patient, one person may attend the patient.
  4.  Administer rapid cooling – cool shower, sponge with cool water, ice packs or wet towels on forehead, neck, armpits, and groin. 

Heat stroke is predictable in this summer. Here are a few tips to prevent heat stroke – 

  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Drink cool liquids and prevent getting dehydrated.
  • Alcohol can dehydrate you quickly, avoid it.
  • Enjoy cucumber, melons, pomegranate & banana.
  • Don`t engage in vigorous activity in hot ambiance.
  • Indulge in aqua exercises and swimming against aerobic activities.
  • If outdoors, rest regularly in the shade and drink fluids frequently.
  • Fans can help but in extended hot weather, air conditioning is the best way to manage temperature and humidity.
  • Protect yourself from sunburn with full covering yet loose clothing, hat, sunglasses and a sunscreen SPF 15.
  • Do not leave the baby (any person) unattended in the car for more than 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Get well-adapted before moving across lows and highs, especially,when moving outdoors from an air-conditioned premise.
  • In case you are at high risk to heat stroke, take all the necessary precautions and ensure that there are immediate medical services nearby.
References:

Mayo Clinic. Heat stroke: Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heat-stroke/symptoms-causes/syc-20353581. Accessed on 26 April 2018.

Heat exhaustion: Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heat-exhaustion/symptoms-causes/syc-20373250. Accessed on 26 April 2018.