Hotter days are expected to prevail again this year. The heat conditions may bring about several heat-related illnesses such as heat rash, heat cramps, heat syncope, and heat stroke. During a heat wave, it is important to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
What is Stroke?
Heat stroke is a form of abnormally elevated body temperature with accompanying physical and neurological symptoms. Unlike heat cramps and heat exhaustion, two less-severe forms of hyperthermia, heat stroke is a true medical emergency that can be fatal.
Cause of Heat Stroke
The body generates heat as a result of metabolism which usually dissipated by sweating. However, in extreme heat, high humidity, or vigorous exertion under the sun, body temperature rises, sometimes up to 41.1 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher. Another cause of heat stroke is dehydration.
The population most susceptible to heat strokes are infants, the elderly (often with associated heart diseases, lung diseases, kidney, diseases, or on certain medications that make them vulnerable to heat strokes), and athletes, or outdoor workers physically exerting themselves under the sun.
Common Symptoms and Signs of Heat Stroke
Different people may have different symptoms and signs of heat stroke. But common symptoms and signs of heat stroke include:
- high body temperature
- rapid pulse
- difficulty of breathing
- strange behavior
- muscle cramps
Symptoms of heat stroke can sometimes mimic those of heart attack or other conditions. Some individuals can develop symptoms of heat stroke suddenly and rapidly without warning.
Remedies for Heat Stroke Patients
Heat stroke requires hospitalization and rapid mechanical cooling along with standard resuscitation measures.
Active cooling methods should be implemented, such as, bathing the patient in cool water, not cold. Immersion in very cold water causes vasoconstriction in the skin which prevents the heat from escaping the body core. Cold compress to the torso, head,neck, and groin will also help cool the victim. Wrapping the patient in wet towels or clothes can insulate and increase the body temperature. Increasing air movement with a fan or air conditioning unit may be used to aid in evaporation of the water (evaporative method). Do not rub alcohol, it will cause further dehydration and impairment of consciousness.
Hydration, by drinking lot of water is important in cooling the patient. Commercial isotonic drinks may be used as a substitute. Intravenous hydration (via a drip) is necessary if the patient is confused, unconscious, or unable to tolerate oral fluids. After the initial treatment, the patient’s heart rate and breathing should be monitored, and CPR may be necessary if the patient goes into cardiac arrest.
The risk of heat stroke can be reduced by wearing light and loose clothes which will allow perspiration to evaporate, wide-brimmed hats in bright color and vents on hat to allow perspiration to cool the heard. Strenuous exercises and remaining in enclosed spaces should be avoided. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids.
Heat stroke is a true medical emergency, therefore proper precautions must be taken to prevent this condition from happening, and remember to always keep cool.