Heat stroke (also known as heatstroke, sun stroke or sunstroke) is a severe heat illness, defined as hyperthermia with a body temperature greater than 40.6 °C (105.1 °F) due to environmental heat exposure with lack of thermoregulation. Heat Stroke can occurs as a progression of mild symptoms of the heat related sickness such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion. It can cause damage to internal organs including the brain. Although heat stroke mainly affects people who are above 60 years of age. It can also affect healthy young people.
In combination with dehydration, heat strokes results from prolonged exposure to high temperature, which leads to failure of body’s temperature control system. The common symptoms of heat stroke include vomiting, nausea, seizures, disorientation and convulsions, and at times unconsciousness which may also lead to a coma. If you come across any person suffering from heat stroke, immediately provide first aid until the victim is taken to the nearest hospital.
The most common symptoms is that the core body temperature will be above 105 degree Fahrenheit. But fainting may be the first sign.
- Agonizing headache
- Red, hot and dry skin
- Shallow breathing
- Behavioural changes such as staggering
- Muscle weakness
- Headedness and dizziness
- Rapid heartbeat which may be too weak or strong
- Nausea followed by vomiting
Risk Factor For Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is most likely to affect older people over 60 years of age, who live in homes lacking of air conditioning or good air flow. Other high risk groups include people of any age who do not drink enough water.
The risk of heat related sickness increases as the heat index climbs beyond 32 degree Celsius. So ensure to check the weather report and also remember not to expose yourself to direct sunlight when the sun is hot over the head.
Those who live in an urban area, especially prone to develop heat stroke during a prolonged heat wave should be extra cautious.
Age- Infants and kids up to 5 year of age and adults over the age of 60 years are particularly
vulnerable as they are slower to adjust to heat than other people.
Medications- it include diet pills, antihistamines, anticonvulsants, beta-blockers and
vasoconstrictors. Drug abuse such as cocaine and methamphetamine also increases the risk of heat strokes.
FIRST AID FOR HEAT STROKES
When a person shows the symptoms of heat stroke, immediate medical help is required and any delay in seeking medical help can be fatal. So, before starting any first aid, call ambulance to transport the person to a hospital.
Do not hesitate to initiate the first aid treatment like cooling the body temperature to below 101-102 degree Fahrenheit. Try following methods given below for cooling the body temperature:
- wet the skin with water
- Fan air over the patient
- Apply ice packs to armpits, neck and back as these areas are rich with blood vessels close
to skin,so cooling them may reduce the body temperature
- immerse the patient in a shower or tub of water
When the heat index is high, try to stay in cool environment. But if you have to go outdoor, follow steps given below to prevent heat stroke:
- use sunscreen or sun protection cream
- wear light-coloured cloths. Loose fitting clothes and always wear a hat or carry an
- Drink lots of extra fluids; at least six glasses of water, vegetable juice, fruit juice.
Heat related sickness can also result from depletion of salt, so it is recommended to drink
an electrolyte rich drink during heat and humidity.
- Take extra precautions when exercising or working outdoors. Generally it is recommended to
drink two glasses of fluids, two hours before exercise and another glass of water just before exercise. And during exercise, consume one glass of water every 20 minutes, even if you do not feel thirsty.
- Reschedule outdoor activity. If possible, shift outdoor work to the coolest time of the day, either to early morning or after sunset.