Heat Stroke

Recent years have seen summers sizzling. We see news being reported about people collapsing and even meeting their eminent death as the temperatures continue to rise. High temperatures of the summer heat now come with their brand of danger. Considered a medical emergency, heat strokes are the most serious form of heat injury.

In situation of heat stroke, the body’s core temperature is noticeably high (40 C or above) after being exposed to soaring environmental temperatures collectively with neurologic symptoms and loss of ability of the brain to control the body temperature. Heat stroke poses higher risks to the elderly, pregnant females and young children.

The characteristic symptom of heat stroke is core body temperatures above 40°C. Other symptoms may include:

  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid, unusual heartbeat (either strong or weak)
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Changes in behavior such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
  • Seizures

If you suspect someone is having a heat stroke, contact a hospital or ambulance. While the ambulance arrives, you need to give the patient first aid by cooling them down. You can do that by taking them in an air-conditioned environment (even a shady, cool area works) and remove unnecessary clothing. Some more tactics involve fanning air over the patient while wetting his or her skin with water from a sponge, hose or tap or applying ice packs to the patient’s armpits, groin, neck, and back to cool and reduce body temperature.

Some preventive measures for heat strokes are:

  • It is advised that you stay in an air-conditioned environment.
  • If you have to travel outside, wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat covering your face.
  • Make use of a sunscreen with SPF of 30 or more.
  • Make sure to drink extra fluids (minimum 8 glasses of water)
  • Additional precautions should be taken when exercising or working outdoors.
  • It is vital that you avoid fluids containing caffeine or alcohol, because both substances can make you lose more fluids and worsen heat-related illness.
  • If you have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets or have a problem with fluid retention, check with your doctor before increasing liquid intake.